I am a re-reader. I LOVE returning to familiar stories over and over again. And I want to share with you the love I have for such stories as I do re-read them. So, I am instituting Feature Reviews. I feel that I can’t really “review” a book that I have read many times, but I can share with you what I continually return to it. So, when a post is titled “Feature Review”, know that it is a book that I hold near and dear to my heart.
Genre: Juvenile Fiction, Historical Fiction, Adventure, Newberry Honor
Paperback, 272 pages
How I Got This Book: Own it
Why I Picked It Up?: I was looking for a filler audiobook to listen to before I started another long audio, so I picked up this favorite. However, I didn’t like the way that the narrator read it, so I picked up my book to re-read!
Book Jacket Blurb: “A vicious captain, a mutinous crew — and a young girl caught in the middle. Not every thirteen-year-old girl is accused of murder, brought to trial, and found guilty. But I was just such a girl, and my story is worth relating even if it did happen years ago. Be warned, however: If strong ideas and action offend you, read no more. Find another companion to share your idle hours. For my part I intend to tell the truth as I lived it.”
Thoughts and Reflections:
So as I mentioned above, this is one of those novels that I would consider a top ten of all-time favorites. This is my first experience of a novel being read aloud to me where I was sitting on the edge of my seat with intense excitement for what was going to come next! This is the first kick-butt heroine I ever read, and man does she kick some butt! This is a timeless story that, no matter how many times I read it or when I read it, I still enjoy it. It is one of those stories that I love, and will continue to love, as long as I live.
I remember I was in my 5th grade classroom when Mrs. Voyles told us that we were going to start a class room read-a-loud book. We already had those dreaded book groups, where we were grouped by reading level and read through books and discussed them together. But this activity would be different, because she was going to read the same story aloud so that all of us could experience it together. And she picked up a copy of The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle from the overhead projector cart, opened it up, and read the prologue and the first chapter. That was all it took for the mystery and intrigue to set in. The entire class was silent as she read aloud, completely entranced by such an exciting and adventurous story. Every day, she would read aloud a chapter from this book, and it was the best part of the day. Once we hit that halfway point, we would beg her to read another chapter, and she would smile as she closed the book, telling us that we had other things to do. Towards the end, we did manage to convince her to read more than one chapter at a time. And when we were done, we all just sat in awe of this story that impacted us all–or at least me.
First of all, this is a story of a strong, fierce female character that I had never found in another book that I had read. Sure, I read a lot of GREAT female characters over the years, but none of them had the ferocity and heart of Charlotte (in fact, I really like to think of her as an ancestor to the great YA women like Katniss and Tris). In the beginning of the story (excluding the prologue, which is her talking after the events of the book take place), Charlotte is a polite and reserved school girl who respects the values on which she was raised. She is your typical 1832 English girl, complete with petticoats and poise. And yet, as the story progresses, we begin to understand that her values are ultimately centered around justice (look at her, she is a radical!). Her father has raised her to believe in and fight for the justice of every individual, and she continuously does that. Many people critique the fact that she seems to unrealistic, switching from her deeply rooted “prim and proper lady” ideology to becoming a sailor on a ship and getting her hands dirty. To me, this does not show her as being fickle, but as truly standing up for justice and rightness, and doing whatever it takes to do so.
Honestly, this book has a little bit of everything, which is why it is SO MEMORABLE to me. It is historical fiction, creating a setting with the essence of 19th Century English snobbery. It is an adventure story, set aboard a ship sailing across the angry Atlantic ocean. It is a mystery, with both the reader and Charlotte trying to figure out exactly what is going to happen aboard The Seahawk. And then you have those memorable characters that just make this story even better. You have Charlotte, who I have discussed in depth above. You have the Cunning Captain Jaggery, a sophisticated man when a twisted view of justice. And you have Zachariah, an old black man with a kind heart. These are the characters that you love to read, for each of them add such a depth to an already exciting story.
This is one of those books to me that I remember so vividly, and each and every time I pick it up the story is the same. And I love that. Because this is one of those books from my childhood that has stood the test of time with me. It is one that I have read over and over, and each and every time I still feel that excitement in my chest that compels me to keep reading. I still sit on the edge of my seat as I read it because it is too intense not to! No matter when I read it, I am immediately transported back to the first time I read it. This is a story that truly has a pull on my heart and soul, and it is one that I will keep reading forever and never forget.
That is the power of such a story.
Do you have a book from childhood that impacted you like this one did for me? One that you love to return to over and over again? Please share it with me!
Love and Timeless Classics,
P.S. I just love how this cover has changed over the years, yet remained true to the essence of the novel. Which is why I choose to showcase a couple!