Thursday, March 3, 2011

Alice Rose & Sam by Kathryn Lasky

I felt bad for dis-ing historical fiction in my blog about Thousand Shades of Gray. so I read another historical fiction. This one is a historical mystery set in Virginia City, Navada during the silver boom days. Like so many historical fictions, it starts with the death of the main character's mother. (When Katherine Patterson visited the Provo Library some time ago someone asked her why parents die so often in Historical Fiction. She replied that you have to get the parents out of the way so that the children can face real dangers. If parents are in the picture, the children are protected and protected children don't have very interesting adventures.) Alice Rose's father is not very attentive to his daughter, so Alice Rose has to find her own way and place in the world. While visiting her mother's grave, she witnesses a murder. Soon after she meets a young reporter, and together they try to make sense out of the crime and figure out how it is connected with and other suspicious things that have been going on. It doesn't take the reader long to discover that the reporter, named Sam, it really Samuel Clemens. I think that Lasky searched through volumes of Clemens' actual quotes and tried to work as many into the story ask she could. As a result the Sam in the book really does reflect a lot of the attitudes of the the real Sam Clemens (aka Mark Twain). The character comes across as is very cynical, anti-religion, and not very complimentary to Mormons. It bothered me a bit, but if you can get past that, then the story and the mystery are well crafted. Lasky populates the story will very dimensional and interesting characters. Even the secondary and minor characters seem like real people. She does a good job of giving enough clues to the mystery that you suspect the outcome, but are not sure of it until the end. The descriptions of life in a Navada mining town of 1850 are honest and vivid. All in all it wasn't a bad read, but not necessarily one I am going to recommend to all my young teen friends. (252 p)

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