BLUE FLAME

BOOK ONE OF THE PERFECT FIRE TRILOGY

The allure of glorious lost causes inspires a tale set in 1242 amid the doomed heresy-fueled Occitan resistance to the French monarchy and the Church. Cathar commoner Raimon and Catholic noble Yolanda, rapt in their budding romance, care little for politics and religion. They share a devotion to their homeland, its songs, dances and legends, most especially the stories of the holy Blue Flame, destined to protect Languedoc. But the times plunge them headlong into a tightening net of intrigue, inquisition and betrayal, and both will have to decide whether their loyalty belongs to their people or to each other. The impeccably researched details reveal a deep appreciation for the region and its culture. Indeed, the narrator is the countryside itself, a stylistic choice that casts an oddly distancing effect upon the unfolding drama. The main characters bear the burden of representing their respective “sides,” leaving enlivening personality quirks to the various secondary personages. Even if too many improbable coincidences drive the plot, and the conclusion is an obvious setup for the sequel, it is unlikely that fans of medieval adventure will mind. (Historical fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-8027-9694-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2008

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THE PAPER GIRL OF PARIS

Passionate, impulsive Chloe and her popular older sister, Adalyn, were inseparable—until the Nazis invaded France in 1940 and Adalyn started keeping secrets.

Over half a century later, Alice, Chloe’s 16-year-old American granddaughter, has just inherited her childhood home in Paris. The fully furnished apartment has clearly been neglected for decades and raises more questions than it answers: Why didn’t Gram talk about her childhood? Who is the second girl in the photos throughout the apartment? Why didn’t Gram’s family return there after the war? Alice’s father is reluctant to discuss anything that might upset Alice’s mother, who’s still reeling from her mother’s death, so Alice decides to find answers on her own. What she eventually learns both shocks and heals her family. Chapters alternate between Alice’s and Adalyn’s voices, narrating Adalyn’s experience as a French Christian of the Nazi occupation and Alice’s attempts to understand what happened after the war. The girls’ stories parallel one another in significant ways: Each has a romance with a young Frenchman, each has a parent struggling with depression, and each must consider the lengths she would go to protect those she loves. Though at times feeling a bit rushed, Alice’s engaging contemporary perspective neatly frames Adalyn’s immersive, heartbreaking story as it slowly unfolds—providing an important history lesson as well as a framework for discussing depression. Alice and her family are white.

Gripping. (Historical fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-293662-2

Page Count: 368

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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THE BOOK THIEF

When Death tells a story, you pay attention. Liesel Meminger is a young girl growing up outside of Munich in Nazi Germany, and Death tells her story as “an attempt—a flying jump of an attempt—to prove to me that you, and your human existence, are worth it.” When her foster father helps her learn to read and she discovers the power of words, Liesel begins stealing books from Nazi book burnings and the mayor’s wife’s library. As she becomes a better reader, she becomes a writer, writing a book about her life in such a miserable time. Liesel’s experiences move Death to say, “I am haunted by humans.” How could the human race be “so ugly and so glorious” at the same time? This big, expansive novel is a leisurely working out of fate, of seemingly chance encounters and events that ultimately touch, like dominoes as they collide. The writing is elegant, philosophical and moving. Even at its length, it’s a work to read slowly and savor. Beautiful and important. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: March 14, 2006

ISBN: 0-375-83100-2

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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