Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Children of Jubilee BLOG TOUR

Haddix, Margaret Peterson. Children of Jubilee. (Children of Exile #3)
December 4th, 2018 by Simon Schuster Books for Young
E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

Kiandra and her various siblings are in Refugee City as the Enforcers are bearing down on the population. The children raised by the Freds are in especial danger, since they don't want to break any rules. Kiandra and Enu find the basement of a grocery store and manage to get everyone to safety while destroying the dangerous electronic communication devices they have, although Kiandra especially hates being without the internet. Determined to find out what happened, the some of the children go upstairs in the store and see a report on the television, but are soon captured by the Enforcers and whisked away... to another planet. There Kiandra, Enu, Edwy and Rosie are forced to work in the mines, their bodies controlled by aliens so that they eat and work when expected. Soon, Cana arrives on the planet, but as she is too young to work, she stays in the cell and claims to have met friends. "Alcibiades" tells her many things, but the other children figure she has an imaginary companion until Kiandra is too weak to work and stays behind. Then, she meets the slub-like Zacadians, who tell her that they are the last of their people, and that the Enforcers have enslaved their planet in order to mine the energy pearls. Eventually, both groups escape, but the spaceship driven by Alcibiades is in violation and brought in so the children can all stand trial. During the trial, all of the creatures see others as similar to themselves. The council doesn't quite believe that the Enforcers are not treating the humans and the Zacadians properly, even though Kiandra has proof of their misdeeds. Can the children not only prove their innocence, but save their people from more mistreatment at the hands of the Enforcers?
Strengths: This had a lot more action and adventure than the previous two books, and all of the elements introduced in previous volumes all came together well. Kiandra is a great character, and her relationships with the various other children are realistic and touching. Her reliance on her cell phone is so typical of teenagers today, so that was amusing-- even on another planet she tried to get a signal! The story moved along briskly, all of the back histories made sense, and there was even an almost romance that was interesting.
Weaknesses: There's some light social preaching going on (green eyes vs. brown eyes, over reliance on technology), but it doesn't really go anywhere. Maybe I'm just imagining it.
What I really think: The Children of Exile and The Children of  Refuge were somewhat difficult for me to follow (the Freds threw me, somehow), but since Haddix is a somewhat local and VERY popular author in my area, I had to buy the books. This is the best volume in the series, and brings everything to a satisfying conclusion.

Welcome to the Children of Jubilee Blog Tour!

To celebrate the release of The Children of Jubilee (Children of Exile #3) on December 4th, blogs across the web are featuring exclusive content from author Margaret Peterson Haddix and 10 chances to win the complete trilogy!

by Margaret Peterson Haddix

“Tell me this,” a friend’s teenaged son asked me once at a party. “When you write in one of your books that someone’s wearing a blue shirt, you just mean that the shirt’s blue, right? You’re not trying to make your readers think of the sky or the ocean or any other symbol. You just mean… That. Shirt. Is. Blue. Right?”

I know a set-up when I hear one, and my friend had already told me her son’s view of symbolism in literature. I could tell that that teenager really wanted an answer that would allow him to go back to school and report to his teacher, “You know what? I happen to know an author, Margaret Peterson Haddix, and she says all that symbolism stuff is just garbage!” I have enough sympathy for teachers that I wasn’t going to do that.

But I also have sympathy for frustrated teenaged readers. So I gave the extremely wishy-washy answer, “Well, sometimes…”

That answer also had the advantage of being true.

Sometimes when I am writing, symbolism is the farthest thing from my mind. Sometimes I have to remind myself to put in any description at all, because I’m so fixated on figuring out the plot, psychoanalyzing my characters’ motivations, choosing the right words to place readers right there in the action—all the other things I have to keep track of as a writer. Sometimes I realize I’ve accidentally given every single one of my characters’ the same color shirt (or hair or eyes, cars or houses, etc.) and I’ve put no more care into assigning specific details to a character than I spend picking out my own clothes when I know I’m going to be sitting at the computer writing all day.

Of course I go back and fix those mistakes in revision. But I do have plenty of moments as a writer when I flash back to being a kid like my friend’s son, the kind who sits in English class rebelliously thinking, “Who cares what that blue shirt represents? Can’t we just get on with the story? Why do we all have to think so much?”

Sometimes a blue shirt really is just a blue shirt.

Other times, I flash back to a different version of my teenaged self—the version that chose to go off to college and major in English, where I delightedly sat through class after class of my professors pointing at sentences that I’d previously thought of as simple and straightforward, and finding symbols and deeper meaning all over the place. “Must love symbolism” should probably be listed as a prerequisite for every class required for English majors.

So sometimes I am the author who slips symbols into my stories right and left, like so many secret messages intended for alert readers. And I love hearing from readers who are just as gleeful about finding the symbolic meanings as I was about writing them.

Because I write for a broad audience, I really don’t want to alienate either symbolism-lovers or symbolism-haters. So my favorite approach is to write a book that can work on multiple levels: as a straight narrative for readers who get annoyed by any suggestion that they should look deeper; and as a tale packed full of symbols and literary connections and other clues for those who see reading as a treasure hunt. 

With my newest book, Children of Jubilee, the title alone is an example of this two-tiered approach. I think “jubilee” is a beautiful word, and after coming through the travails of the entire Children of Exile trilogy, my characters are due a period of rejoicing and celebration—the most common way the word is understood.

But when I chose the title, I was also thinking of the historical and theological meaning of the word. In both Jewish and Christian traditions, “jubilee” has connections to forgiveness, atonement, and new beginnings. The book of Leviticus spells out instructions for a Year of Jubilee every fifty years where slaves are freed, debts are erased, and fields are left untilled and resting. This concept fascinates me, even though I wonder a little skeptically how it worked in actual practice. (Did people just avoid loaning anyone money in the year before a jubilee year, because they knew they’d never get their money back?)

The deeper concept also fits Children of Jubilee well. By this stage in the series, a lot of people have been wronged, and my characters are desperately seeking both a way out of their troubles and a way to forgive and move past a lot of ugly history. 

I’m not actually expecting that many readers who pick up Children of Jubilee would know about the Biblical concept of jubilee or ancient Hebrew traditions. I really wouldn’t want any kids like my friend’s son to ever face exam questions about those connections. But the extra meaning is there like a gift for any reader who does have that background knowledge.

And, who knows, maybe a few kids who think they hate symbolism and deeper meaning in their stories will read Children of Jubilee, idly decide to Google an unfamiliar word, and end up learning a few things just for the fun of it.

And maybe that will help transform them from symbolism-haters to symbolism-lovers.

It would be a change worthy of a jubilee.


Blog Tour Schedule:

December 3rd — Beach Bound Books
December 4th — Ms. Yingling Reads
December 5thChristy's Cozy Corners
December 6thCrossroad Reviews
December 7th — A Dream Within A Dream

December 10th — Book Briefs
December 11th — Chat with Vera
December 12th — Bookhounds
December 13th — Java John Z's
December 14th — Unleashing Readers

About the Author: Margaret Peterson Haddix is the author of many critically and popularly acclaimed YA and middle grade novels, including the Children of Exile series, The Missing series, the Under Their Skin series, and the Shadow Children series. A graduate of Miami University (of Ohio), she worked for several years as a reporter for The Indianapolis News. She also taught at the Danville (Illinois) Area Community College. She lives with her family in Columbus, Ohio. Visit her at HaddixBooks.com.

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