Thursday, April 5, 2012

April Book Pick -- May B, by Caroline Starr Rose

May is being sent to help out on a neighbor's Kansas homestead, because the neighbor's new wife just isn't adjusting to life in a soddy on the prairie. It's only till Christmas, her parents assure her, but that doesn't help much. She knows that if she spends this time at the Oblingers', her parents will be paid some money plus not have to feed her. How can they pass up this chance? And they can't send her brother Hiram because "boys are important." She is not.

May finds Mrs. Oblinger not at all amenable to learning how to manage, so she must indeed do all the work around the tiny soddy. Not only that, but she now has no time to pursue her education, and she wants nothing more than to obtain her teaching licence when she is fifteen or sixteen. That is, if she can overcome her reading difficulty, which we would identify today as dyslexia. And that seems impossible, now that nice Miss Sanders has left the school to be replaced by a teacher who considers May stupid.

Then, the worst happens: Mrs. Oblinger leaves, her husband goes after her, and neither ever returns. Abandoned an unimaginably long fifteen miles from home with winter coming on, May must fight to survive on her own in the soddy and eventually find her way home.

May B is a beautifully written verse novel; it allows the reader to savor the language yet enjoy a fast pace. Say what they will about historical fiction not selling -- I'll gravitate to it again and again, and I know I've got company. Also, as an aside, this book was especially interesting to me because in my historical novel The Journey of Emilie, Emilie and her brother must spend several days on their own in a log cabin during a Wisconsin blizzard. Definitely recommended.

14 comments:

Bish Denham said...

I'm with you, I love historical fiction. And I've added this one to my list.

Barbara Watson said...

Oh, I adored May B. And when I read novel in verse, I'm amazed at how much can be said (and so beautifully) in such few words. I'm also a lover of historical fiction.

Faith E. Hough said...

I love historical fiction, and I loved this book! Personally, I thought it justified the use of verse better than almost any verse novel I've ever read.

Marcia said...

Bish -- I'm predicting you'll enjoy it.

Barbara -- Verse novels are one way in which I especially appreciate poetry.

Faith -- That's an excellent point. Verse for the sake of verse would lack something. It works beautifully for May B.

Dawn Malone said...

I have heard so much about this, but I keep forgetting to get a hold of it. I love historical fiction, too. There's so many good ones out there.

Medeia Sharif said...

I loved this book. I agree, it is beautifully written. I enjoy verse and historical, so it was great to find a book with both qualities.

TerryLynnJohnson said...

I LOVED this book!

Cynthia Chapman Willis said...

Wow, this sounds like a great read. I'll be adding it to my to be read pile. Thanks for the wonderful review.

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

I love hf! May B is on my to be purchased list. :)

Susan Fields said...

I won this book a while back and it's been patiently waiting for me to get to it. I've skimmed through it and it looks like it will be a great read!

Marcia said...

Dawn -- I have little scraps of paper surrounding my monitor where I jot down all the great titles I hear about. :) I think you'll enjoy this one.

Medeia -- I love how verse novels can nail the MC's emotions in so few words.

Terry -- I know; I've yet to hear of anybody who didn't. The universal appeal is something we all want in our work.

Cynthia -- You'll find it to be a fast read, so you can accommodate other things in that pile as well. :)

Sharon -- I do think there's more HF love out there than we're sometimes led to believe. I've seen more than one agent and editor putting out wish lists for specific eras to be covered.

Susan -- You skimmed it without reading it on the spot? What fortitude you have. :)

Christina Farley said...

I've heard so many great things about this book. I need to get it!

Marcia said...

I think you'll like it, Christina. :)

inluvwithwords said...

You have a real talent for summing up stories, Marcia. Great review. I loved this one as well.