Well, even before the forensic evidence was in, I had to realize that Anastasia would be 110 by now, so would not be alive. Like Amelia Earhart. *Sigh*
Another great historical novel by the author of Miss Spitfire: Reaching Helen Keller, The Lost Crown gives a vivid description of the four daughters of Tsar Nicholas just before their world came crashing down, and once it does. Told from the point of view of each of the girls, we see how the close knit family enjoyed their privileged life, but also how they worked together as things become worse and worse. The girls and their mother the empress work in a hospital helping wounded soldiers. We see how their brothers ill health affects the entire family. And once the revolution occurs, we see how their world becomes smaller and smaller, and the situation more hopeless. We all know the plot, but what makes this extraordinary is the detail of every day life under the various circumstances, which is always why I like to read historical fiction.
Strengths: The research is phenomenal. Second reason for reading historical fiction-- learning about different time periods without consulting a text book. This certainly is terrific for that. The different personalities of the girls allow them to discuss different facets of their lives. The addition of notes and photographs is helpful.
Weaknesses: I found the alternating narration to be difficult to follow, but I always do. While I will definitely recommend this to our high school librarians, I may not purchase it for my own library because the period it covers is not in our curriculum, and it is a very hefty tome (412 pages) for middle schoolers to pick up.
I collect young adult fiction from the 1950s, so it was odd to read a modern book set during that time! Shreve draws on her own experiences to tell the story of Frannie, a well-to-do teen who has a deformed foot that requires her to wear clunky orthopedic shoes. Frannie is fairly content with her life, but she has a glamorous mother who wants to make sure she is comfortable at dances, so contacts the Italian shoe designer Salvatore Ferragamo to see if he can help build a shoe for Frannie so that she can partake fully of teen life.
Strengths: Again, a vivid picture of the time, with high school dances and small town life in a different era. The trip to Italy was fascinating. The cover is great.
Weaknesses: Even though this is based on what Shreve's mother actually did, it was hard to believe that they would travel to Italy for shoes! I also had an off feeling that the shoes didn't matter all that much to Frannie. I'm still struggling to think of a student to whom to hand this, so I am debating purchase.
Also picked up Selene Castrovilla's The Girl Next Door, which was a very good Lurlene McDaniel type story where a girl's best (boy) friend is dying of cancer, and they realize that they love each other. I would buy, but there was a lot of mention of sex. Nothing graphic, but a lot of mention. This would be great for high school.
I really, really hate to get on the computer in the summer. I don't think I am that fond of the computer ever, but when I am at work, I have to be on it. To turn it on on purpose seems so wrong!