Friday, March 28, 2014

Olivia, Mourning (The Olivia Series) by Yael Politis


Book 1 of the Olivia Series
Historical Fiction - USA, 1840s 

Olivia wants the 80 acres in far off Michigan that her father's will left to whichever of his offspring claims the land. As Olivia says, "I'm sprung off him just as much as Avis or Tobey." The problem: she's seventeen, female, and it's 1841.

Mourning Free, Olivia's trusted childhood friend, knows how to run a farm and is also sorely in need of a new start in life. The problem: though born in a free state, he's the orphaned son of runaway slaves and the slave catchers who patrol the north hunting fugitives are not particular about who they take back south with them.

Not without qualms, they set off together. All goes well, despite the drudgery of survival in an isolated log cabin. Incapable of acknowledging her feelings for Mourning, Olivia thinks her biggest problem is her unrequited romantic interest in their young neighbor. Until her world falls apart.

Strong-willed, vulnerable, and compassionate, Olivia is a compelling protagonist on a journey to find a way to do the right thing in a world in which so much is wrong.

2013 Quarter-Finalist ABNA 
2010 Book of the Year YWO

Olivia, Mourning is an epic story of a young woman's desire for independence in frontier Ameria. When Olivia Killion's father dies, she suddenly must face her future. Her eldest brother has inherited the family store and house. Olivia fears that when he marries, she will be a burden. She learns about some land in rural Michigan that her father owns. Of his children, whoever chooses to work the land and make a success of it for one year, can inherit it. With the help of an young black man named Mourning, she secretly departs for the farmland in the hopes that together, they will succeed and earn their own fortunes. But life on the farm is not easy. The living conditions are rugged and primitive. And the neighbours are not all they seem. Soon, Olivia finds herself kidnapped and taken advantage of by her neighours, with Mourning no where to be found.

Olivia, Mourning is a novel reminiscent of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her Little House on the Prairie series. The description of daily life and all the necessary items and tasks for survival are brilliantly described. While reading this novel, I felt as if I were watching it on the screen, so vivid were the details. I was interested from the first page. It wasn't until the halfway mark that the novel really takes off with a horrible situation Olivia faces with her neighbours. I found myself eagerly flipping the pages and completely and utterly immersed in this story. But be prepared - the book ends with a real big hook that will send you to Amazon to purchase the sequel, The Way The World Is. I strongly recommend this novel as beautifully written, compelling, unputdownable, and unforgettable.

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