After misplacing my copy of R Is for Rebel by J. Anderson Coats, I found it again a few days ago. The nice thing is that even though I had read a good chunk of it, I remembered enough as the book is pretty easy to remember, and therefore I was able to start where I left off without too much trouble. However, since there are several characters and a few overlapping stories, I do not recommend reading it that way.
This middle grade read (ages 10 to 14) has several themes. The themes of colonialism, ethnic cleansing and forcing a people to comply with their enslavement (then claiming they “enjoy” the opportunity to be part of this new world) are old themes; yet we are still dealing with many of them today. The parallels of “the book” and “now” are obvious and done in an age appropriate manner.
Malley is a spunky character main character. You see how she lives in a medieval like world, with an industrial environment. She learns what it means to rebel, she learns about choices and she learns that sometimes the smallest acts can have the biggest impact. The writing is good as it flows quickly, but with the details needed to understand the plot. It has a modern tone, so the today reader can appreciate the action. From page one, I figured it was something I would have enjoyed as the targeted age. I know I would not have seen the ending coming as a kid, but frankly, I did not see that ending as an adult either. It is mostly predictable until the last chapter/few pages.