Thursday, October 6, 2011

Wicked Girls

Subconsciously I must be needing to read more 17th Century Massachusetts historical fiction books.  The last book I read, Caleb's Crossing, felt like a good read for Thanksgiving, and it was set during the 17th century in Massachusetts; this book, Wicked Girls by Stephanie Hemphill, seems like a good read for Halloween, and it is also set during the 17th century in Salem, Massachusetts.  I  promise it wasn't planned; sometimes it just works out.  Though, I hope it doesn't disappoint you to hear that my next read is not set in the 17th century AND it isn't in Massachusetts.  Sometimes you just have to shake things up a bit.

Back to Wicked Girls, a book set in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692 during the Salem Witch Trials.  I had never read anything on the Salem Witch Trials; however, I felt this was a great one to start with.  Hemphill wrote the story in verse which made for a fast read.  Plus, the story is told through the different "wicked girls," the ones that do the accusing.  It was fun, and not confusing at all, to hear the stories from the different girls points of view.

I felt like this book portrays the first historical "Mean Girls;" it honestly made me think of the Mean Girls the movie.  I didn't like the movie at all; I felt the girls were way to mean to each other.  Yes, I know that that was the point of the movie; I just didn't like girls being so mean.  After reading this book I was reminded on how mean girls can be to each other and to others.  These girls were mean, or as Hemphill said, "wicked."  In the back of the book the author gives historical information on the Salem Witch Trials.  She used most of the same names, which was helpful for a new Salem Witch Trial like myself.  After reading all of the historical information I realized that Hemphill did a lot of research in the book.  Though this book was very much fiction, it was very historical as well.  In the Author's Note in the back Hemphill discusses why she wrote the story.  After researching the Salem Witch Trials she learned how very applicable and relevant the "wicked girls" were to today's girls and teen group dynamics.  Hemphill wrote, "The tale that unfolded seemed so timeless and incredibly relevant today.  Here was a story of the pitfall of peer pressure, gossip and girl group dynamics that led to false empowerment."  I feel Hemphill hit the nail on the head with my exact thoughts while reading the novel.

Wicked Girls is a historical fiction book, but it is also a story that is incredibly relevant to today's teens.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book and learning a little bit more about the Salem Witch Trials.  Now, on the off chance I go to a Halloween party I will be able to talk more comfortably about the Salem Witch Trials.  Every great Halloween party talks about witches and the Salem Witch Trials, right?

Here is a publisher's book description of Wicked Girls:

What started out as girls' games became a witch hunt. Wicked Girls is a fictionalized account of the Salem witch trials told from the perspectives of three of the real young women living in Salem in 1692.

Ann Putnam Jr. plays the queen bee. When her father suggests that a spate of illnesses within the village is the result of witchcraft, Ann grasps her opportunity. She puts in motion a chain of events that will change the lives of the people around her forever.

Mercy Lewis, the beautiful servant in Ann's house, inspires adulation in some and envy in others. With a troubled past, she seizes her only chance at safety.

Margaret Walcott, Ann's cousin, is desperately in love and consumed with fiery jealousy. She is torn between staying loyal to her friends and pursuing the life she dreams of with her betrothed.

With new accusations mounting daily against the men and women of the community, the girls will have to decide: Is it too late to tell the truth?

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.  I enjoyed that the book was a fast read; refreshing to have a fast read after a book that you have to struggle a bit more to finish.  I enjoyed that even though it was set in an historical time period it is still very relevant and relatable.  I enjoyed learning a little bit more about a time in history I didn't know much about.

While reading I was saddened by how much power the girls received; I was saddened that the leaders in the town gave the girls so much power to decide the fate of so many people.  I was saddened how much peer pressure and bullying can affect teens.  I was saddened to see so many, "witches" hung.

As you can see the book, Wicked Girls, clearly drew me in as a reader.  I felt a mix of emotions while reading.  I felt sadness, shock, disappointment and more for the characters and situations in the book.  I would recommend this book for others to read.  The story is written well, the language is very clean, and there is very little inappropriate content (a few things only referred to but not described).  All in all this book is a clean read for any middle school or high school girl, I can't see boys getting too into this book.

Happy reading!  Let me know your thoughts or this book or any book.      

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