Inspired by a few lines from her immigrant great-great grandmother's diary, Newbery Honor author Preus (Heart of a Samurai) spins the sometimes harrowing tale of Astri, a 13-year-old Norwegian girl sold into hard labor by her greedy aunt. With a dead mother, a father in America, an imperiled younger sister, and the foreboding goat-keeper who has bought her, Astri is like a girl out of a fairy tale, and the native folktales that Preus weaves through the narrative serve as guides, lessons, and inspiration for her. Determined to escape her cruel master, rescue her sister, and join her father in America, she learns firsthand the sacrifices—financial, physical, and emotional—that immigrants face. Astri is fierce and brave enough to bargain with Death, and not always innocent; likewise, the villain is also an agent of salvation. In the reality these folktales frame, there are no easy or absolute categories. A threat of sexual violence and a grisly death might be hard on sensitive readers, but this immigrant's tale would ring false without them. Ages 10–14. Agent: Stephen Fraser, Jennifer De Chiara Agency. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/24/2014 Release date: 04/01/2014 Genre: Children's
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