Imagine being seasick for five months, two weeks, and six days as you--a girl from Philadelphia--sail farther and farther away from everything and everyone you've ever known to the unknown wilds of the Great Pacific Northwest in 1854: "I felt certain that luck had nothing to do with anything aboard the Lady Luck
, a poorly named vessel if ever there was one. I had just spent the morning of my sixteenth birthday puking into a bucket, and I had little hope that the day would improve." Meet Boston Jane, a new reluctant young lady heroine from Jennifer L. Holm, author of the Newbery Honor Book, Our Only May Amelia
Impulsive Jane, ever on the path to leaving behind her rough-and-tumble tomboy childhood to become a proper young lady, agrees to meet her very genteel fiancé on the rugged west coast of America. Unfortunately, William is not there when she arrives. Suddenly, Boston Jane, as her new Chinook neighbors call her, must cast aside her "faultless young lady" demeanor and depend on her long-suppressed pioneer spirit to survive. Holm cleverly weaves in lessons from Jane's Philadelphia finishing school, Miss Hepplewhite's Young Ladies Academy, in dramatic and often-hilarious contrast to the trials and tribulations Jane faces at sea and in Oregon country. Readers will be charmed by teenage Jane's ironic tone and inner conflicts and will cheer her on as she sheds layer after layer of decorum. Granted, the budding romance between Jane and sailor Jehu, "hidden" beneath the surface love story of Jane and the more uppity William, is an at-least-twice-told tale; but young readers will get caught up in the excitement of it nonetheless. The intricate details of mid-19th century life on an untamed frontier--complete with carefully researched Chinook tribal history and real-life incidents of white settlers--are absolutely fascinating. A thrilling, entertaining read. (Ages 9 and older) --Emilie Coulter
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Holm (Our Only May Amelia) returns to the frontier (by way of Philadelphia) in this fast-paced second novel about a blossoming society lady who must surrender etiquette in order to survive. The enormously likable and irrepressible 16-year-old narrator Jane recounts her childhood crush on her father's apprentice William, which caused her, at age 11, to trade her tomboyish spitting and cherry pie-eating for proper deportment and embroidery lessons at Miss Hepplewhite's Young Ladies Academy. As Jane makes her way to the Oregon territory to marry William, Holm humorously juxtaposes Miss Hepplewhite's lessons with the reality of life at sea and on the frontier in 1854. Such advice as travelers must "dress plainly and pack lightly" does not seem to apply: Jane reflects, "She had been rather remiss in mentioning any hints on killing fleas, avoiding rats, bathing with seawater, or being seasick." The plot thickens when she meets Jehu, an officer on the ship and discovers that William has departed for a project with the governor. Jane (named Boston Jane by the local Chinook Indians) must share a cabin with unkempt, tobacco-chewing men and make herself useful by cooking, washing and mending rather than supervising servants or pouring tea. The developing love triangle (with Jehu and William) takes a back seat to Holm's credible portrait of Jane's budding friendships with the Chinook and pioneers, and the series of challenges that transform her into the outspoken, self-reliant young woman readers will long remember. Ages 10-up.
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