A friend of mine was having a birthday, so naturally, I headed for the bookstore. A couple of years ago, she borrowed Graceling from me and loved it. She got Fire on her Kindle (which meant I couldn’t borrow it and had to get my own copy. Life is rough.). But there in the bookstore was Bitterblue! She got that and Pride and Prejudice because at 14, she needs to know that there is more to love stories than droopy vampires.
Anyway, I had to have my own copy of Bitterblue. It is awesome. Kristin Cashore writes about healthy young women who have both awesome power and serious problems. They are comfortable in their bodies and they don’t freak out about sex, just love, which makes much more sense. If I had girls, I would want them to read these books. I think T. would like them, too, but he’s got a long list of books he wants to read, so I’d have to wait and see.
What’s it about? Right. Bitterblue is a young queen. She became queen after her murderous, mind-altering father killed her mother and subsequently got killed. She has to figure out how to deal with not only her own scars, but the entire country’s scars. Striking a balance between acknowledging and atoning for the evil that people did under her father’s influence and overwhelming hurt and fragile people with guilt is a tough task made more difficult by advisors who keep her stuck in her castle and out of touch with her people. Bitterblue’s secret nightly escapes into the city around her castle show her a different sort of truth and a different sort of lying. She also makes some unusual friends.
While the book is often funny and touching, there are some rough passages that a sensitive kid might have trouble with (um, strike that. Sensitive person. I had trouble with them.). I would give it to my kid, as I said before, but I have read the book myself and I know my kid. Other parents might want to do the same.
Overall, I am always pleased to read books written for the YA audience that are funny, smart, and thought-provoking. I hope there is another book soon!