by: Shannon Hale
Miri lives on a mountain where, for generations, her ancestors have quarried stone and lived a simple life. Then word comes that the king's priests have divined her small village the home of the future princess. In a year's time, the prince himself will come and choose his bride from among the girls of the village. The king's ministers set up an academy on the mountain, and every teenage girl must attend and learn how to become a princess.
This is the first in my series short reviews to supplement my normal blog posting this month. This is because I'll be gone most of this month (and when I'm home I won't have time to read). But to keep up my blog I've decided to post shorter reviews of books that I read before I started making reviews. Of course, I haven't read most of these books in a while, so these reviews will be more general than I normally do, but will give my overall opinion of what I remember.
I loved this book in fifth grade when I first read it and it has remained one of my favorite fantasy books. Not because the world was particularly crazy or anything, but because the characters were so endearing as were their relationships. It's a story of friendship and family and what it means to grow up somewhere. When I think of this book, I think of how perfectly it portrayed a hometown (or a group of people that grow into a family). Miri might not have liked everyone in the village, but she loved and needed them all. I loved Miri and Peder's cute childhood friendship-turned-crush story and how innocent it felt.
But the best part of this book for me was always Miri's relationship with all the girls who went to the academy. There was a little drama, but they were there for each other when the needed to be. Basically what I'm trying to say is that this book captures a truth of what actually happens in young teen girls' relationships.
And I said earlier that the world isn't anything crazy, but it had this cozy feeling to it. I loved the more fantastical aspects (like quarry-speech). The idea of the mountain people and working in the quarry and the problems with trading were all really interesting and worked together to progress the story.
In truth, Miri was not just an excellent character, but for a middle school girl to read, she was an excellent role-model. She made mistakes and was often nervous, but she was brave enough to seek knowledge (both for herself and for the people of her village). She sought change and, typically, she got it by working hard and not giving up. She took initiative. That taught me a lot.