When Alis’s parents reveal that she has been chosen to marry a man of forty, she is distraught — how can such an unnatural marriage be right? She abandons her life in the oppressive community where she has been raised, and flees to the city in search of freedom only to find herself caught up in events beyond her control.
Will Alis’s decision to defy her parents have fatal consequences, not just for her, but for everyone who tries to help her, including the boy she loves?
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Naomi Rich was awarded a BA in English Literature from Newnham College, Cambridge, and a PGCE from Manchester University. For many years, she taught English at St Paul's Girls' School in London. Alis is her first novel, although she has enjoyed writing from a young age. She is particularly interested in seventeenth century Puritanism, as well as nineteenth century novels and medicine.From School Library Journal:
Grade 7–10—Alis, 15, is betrothed against her wishes to Galen, the 40-something minister of Freeborne, a "Community of The Book" in an imagined, horse-drawn past. Outraged, she escapes to Two Rivers, another Bookish Community, where she earns the enmity of Thomas, a conservative religious reformer. She meets and falls in love with Luke, who is forced to flee with his grandparents because of their philosophical disagreements with Thomas. She goes to the big bad City, where she finds her runaway brother leading a Dickensian gang of young cutthroats and part-time prostitutes. She gains an ally in Edge, a girl who defends herself with a knife, but seeing that life there is a dead end, Alis eventually returns home and meekly submits to marriage to Galen. She is relieved that he does not force her to sleep with him, and life continues apace until Edge shows up, is startled by Galen's sudden appearance, and fatally wounds him. Thomas soon accumulates enough circumstantial evidence to charge Alis with murder, setting up the climactic trial. The story may be compelling to the intended audience, but the plot winds back on itself overmuch, with many characters, some of whom are stereotyped as "good" or "bad" as much by their physical description as by their actions, dropped by the wayside. While sexual undercurrents, hypocrisy, and religious repression dominate the tale, in the end Alis and Luke ride off into exile a bit older and perhaps more worldly-wise, but little different, really, than if they'd done so 100 pages earlier.—Joel Shoemaker, Southeast Junior High School, Iowa City, IA
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