Thursday, December 31, 2009

Book Review: Sarah Bishop by Scott O'Dell

This book has traveled with me for 20 years after I originally read it, not because it was a favorite, but because it was by a favorite author. I thought this was one less likely to stand the test of time, but more likely to surprise me. And now I think it is pretty good, but not fantastic. Set in the early days of the Revolutionary War on Long Island (aka Brooklyn), the first 75% of the book mirror Island of the Blue Dolphins in a lot of surprising ways. Our heroine's mother is absent, father dies, her brother then runs off (to join the rebs), she goes after him in a misguided attempt to save him which just gets her into deeper water. Then she has to live off the land with only her wits and a couple of animal friends. Of course unlike Karena, Sarah both has a price on her head, and isn't destined to remain exiled for 20+ years. The ending certainly is different, but in some ways it's unsatisfying. As this was also based on a real-life story, I wish there'd been an epilogue to explain how she ended up later in life. I felt a little distanced from the character, but I don't know if that's because it took me three days to read this instead of powering through it in one, or because it's YA and therefore a much shorter easier read (and a reread to boot). I always have a little trouble really identifying with characters when I only spend a couple of hours with them. But it's very well-written, the era details felt accurate, and I think kids this age can really never read enough books with strong independent female characters. Particularly resourceful, hardworking ones like Sarah.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Wonderful book, finished it in 2 days displeased with the ending though and very curious to know what happened to her afterwards.