by Gail Carson Levine, published 2017
“I’d been taught that our Bamarre were lucky to be ruled by us. Otherwise they would have been conquered by others, who would have killed them all. With us, they were safe and had duties and food.”
What a terrific children’s book. And written at a time when we see in the public all kinds of reasons for justifying oppression, in the name of goodness. This book addresses many issues all at once, in a well-organized fantasy tale – oppression of one nation over another; prejudice and crazy ideas about the oppressed; passivity versus compassion and strength. I couldn’t put this book down, even though it was the wee hours of the morning before I finished.
I had enjoyed a previous children’s book by this author called Two Princesses of Bamarre, but by the time I read this, I couldn’t remember any of the details of the other book, nor did it matter at all. It didn’t read in the slightest bit like a sequel where you longed for the previous books.
There’s a great deal of action as well as emotion, and thoughtfulness in this children’s book, especially exploring the idea of unconditional love. Can we love even when we discover something unwanted about the one we love? And how deep does prejudice run? I found that Levine’s exploration of these issues quite satisfying…In the end, no, everyone is not happily ever after, and that indeed is often the case with blind prejudice.
Highly recommend this children’s book for young girls especially, and it will be satisfying for many young boys because of the fighting and presence of dragons, et al.