It's time to give genre fiction the respect it deserves. If you're not familiar with contemporary historical fiction, mystery, science fiction, romance, or horror, then you might have outdated notions of these genres. Historical fiction is my preferred genre; luckily, it's being recognized as being more than historical romances or war stories. I recently read three outstanding historical novels:
One Came Home
Be prepared for a wild and wacky read that might stretch your credulity if you read One Came Home; several commentators in the kidlitosphere blogging world have complained about the twists and turns Timberlake take to create her story. Ordinarily, I might have had the same complaints (as I did with Okay for Now), but I was so taken with Georgie's courage, gumption, and sass that I was able to overlook everything else. Georgie is the only one who believes that her sister, Agatha, is alive, despite all evidence to the contrary. Her journey to find the truth is filled with all sorts of hi jinks, including a thwarted mountain lion attack and an epic shootout. Beneath all this adventure is a tale about the freedom that forgiveness brings and the strong bonds of family.
After One Came Home came two high-profile historical fiction novels for adults:
The Aviator's Wife
I had eagerly anticipated The Aviator's Wife ever since I read about in Wowbrary, and Melanie Benjamin did not disappoint. Knowing little about Anne Morrow Lindbergh and Charles Lindbergh, other than basic biographical points (Spirit of St. Louis, kidnapping of one of their children, and Nazi associations) and having read Gift From the Sea when I was in college, each new vignette proved to be new and fascinating to me. I had no idea that the Lindberghs were such enormous celebrities; the relentless hounding by the press was jarring. This was not a happy marriage, for several reasons, so readers looking for a great romance will be disappointed. It's incredibly captivating and emotional; Benjamin captures the danger and excitement of early aviation, Anne's struggle to create an identity other than "the ambassador's daughter" or "the aviator's wife," the isolation of the Lindberghs due to their association with Nazis and the isolationist movement at the start of World War II, and the horror and heartbreak over the kidnapping of Charles Jr.
The Painted Girls
The Painted Girls has been touted in magazines such as People and Entertainment Weekly, and author Cathy Marie Buchanan has appeared on NPR, so it's no surprise that this novel was hotly anticipated. The Painted Girls tells the story of young Marie van Goethem, an average 14 year old dancer chosen by Degas as a model for his new sculpture. The Painted Girls explores the grim life of the young dancers at the Opera; it's quite a dark read, very eye-opening, and occasionally an upsetting read, so be prepared. (I really, really need to read Apollo's Angels!)
Next Thursday, I'll share three more reads: Victoria Rebels (a YA historical fiction novel about the future Queen Victoria), Hokey Pokey (Jerry Spinelli's latest--apparently, you either love it or hate it....few are lukewarm about this), and I'll finally get through The Dark Frigate and close the books on the 1920s Newbery books.