I’ve re-read another childhood favorite, also with an example of the intrepid female protagonist, The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare. This 1959 Newbery Medal book tells the story of Kit Tyler, a young woman whose permissive and indulged childhood in the British Caribbean colonies in the last half of the 17th Century does not prepare her for life amongst her Puritan family members in the American colonies. That’s where she winds up, though, after the bankruptcy and death of her grandfather.
Kit’s headstrong ideas do not endear her to the community, and she finds understanding and solace in an old Quaker woman who is equally unaccepted in the village. Eventually, though, she learns to understand her family better and grows to love them, even if she doesn’t always agree. Her big test comes, though, when the superstitious townspeople seek to harm her Quaker friend. Kit’s intervention and orchestration of her friend’s escape winds up with her being tried for witchcraft.
I’ve always been drawn to any story where the protagonist is someone who doesn’t quite ever fit in with their community and surroundings. I sure felt that way growing up. I’ve always been just a bit out of sync, a bit different, a little odd. I am, for instance, the token liberal in my family, the most bookish, and the most introverted. They love me, but I’ve never been quite sure they really “get” me. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find out that aliens had dropped me down in southeast Texas as some sort of social experiment. It is a testimony to the power of a good book, that an odd and bookish little girl could find a fictional soul-sister in Kit Tyler and realize that maybe she wasn’t quite so alone after all. That’s what Young Adult fiction does best.