is a historical novel aimed at the young teen audience, but there's plenty here to make an adult smile too. Young Anna Coburn's life is turned upside down in 1845 when floods destroy her father's store and bring typhoid to her town. Needing to focus on rebuilding their future, he places Anna in a Shaker community where she finds life restrictive and longs for the day when he'll take her away again.
Authors Wim Coleman and Pat Perrin paint a rich picture of this strange and self-contained religious community, during the decade that saw it reach its highest numbers in the United States . Though Anna at 14 is considered a woman, not a child, she is able to attend school as well as share in the herb-processing work and other activities. The traditions and history of the Shakers are presented with respect and, as far as I know of Shakers, with accuracy. The authors portray a few of the Shakers as very real people who had real lives in the world before sequestering themselves in this celibate community.
The story deals with moral choices, but the public and private dilemmas are presented with a clever hand and never sound preachy. I was delighted to find Henry David Thoreau as a character in the book, introducing the themes of slavery and the Mexican War. When Anna's father eventually sends for her and brings her to his sumptuous new Boston home, these worldly issues have a surprising impact on her and, young as she is, she has to make some adult choices about how to live her life.
If you think a book about an all-but-defunct religious community sounds dull, read it for yourself and you'll be pleasantly surprised. Anna is a well-rounded main character, mature but not beyond a bit of mischief when the occasion arises. Her courage in the face of danger, her commitment to living the life that's right for her, provide a model for growing up that's as fresh as a new day.
I took one star off because of a concern that's admittedly subjective: in the epilogue, Anna reminisces about her father's position of conscience during the Civil War. I felt that his stance ws introduced with too little discussion, so that her acceptance of it was not well-grounded. This could (and should) be an opportunity for thoughtful discussion in the family if you bring this book home to a teen.
It's the 1840's and 14 year old Anna Coburn has had her world turned upside down. After typhoid kills many and weakens Anna, and a flood ruins her town and her father's business, Anna is sent to live with the Shakers while her father tries to make them a new life in Boston. Anna isn't used to the beliefs and rules of the serious Shaker community and she finds herself longing to be with her father and the life she once knew and had. But when that day finally … more
As an adult writer who dabbles in on-line reviews, I am often told that I should be paid for my work. Now, I am certainly not arguing this point. I can think of nothing better than to be graciously paid for the achievement of putting thoughts through pen to paper. Writing enables one for all time to capture an elicited emotion like an elixir in the sentimental little bottle that the unnamed narrator in Du Maurier's Rebecca refers to that once uncorked would allow one to conjure and relive a favorite … more
So far, and I stress so far, this YA book has gleaned three national awards. It was Top Award-Winner in the "Fiction & Literature: Young Adult Fiction" category. The work was a Silver Medal Winner, 2008 - Moonbeam Children's Books Award and First Place Winner in the "Teen Fiction" category from Reader Views Literary Awards. To be honest, it deserved each of these and so very much more. This is one of the better YA books I have had the pleasure of reading over the past five years. As … more
This young adult novel is set in the 1840s, and provides a valuable historical lesson into the daily life of a Shaker community of that time. After a devastating flood destroys her father's business and wreaks havoc in her hometown, fourteen year old Anna is sent to live in a Shaker community until he gets back on his feet. Time passes slowly, and Anna has some difficulty adjusting to the lifestyle, but thanks to a wonderful teacher, she is introduced to poetry and further … more
The United States of America in the late 1840s--a nation torn by the crime of slavery and a war of conquest in Mexico. Fourteen-year-old Anna Coburn doesn't want to grapple with such terrible issues. Just growing up seems awful enough. Forced from her home and away from her beloved father, Anna is sent to live among the stern people called Shakers. Their strange ways and strict lifestyle are both appealing and difficult for the bright, headstrong Anna. When reunited with her father, Anna is then plunged into upper-class Boston life, where she faces a troubling mystery, new responsibilities, and events that will affect not just herself and her loved ones, but a country about to come apart at the seams. With a cast that includes Henry David Thoreau, a perceptive Shaker schoolmistress, and a murderous false friend, Anna's World is a powerful coming of age story, widely praised for its vivid characters, gripping plot, and moral stature.