5 + stars Middle School/YA
Wowza! I read this book on a car trip and well, my husband heard it secondhand as I couldn’t stop talking about it. Lois Lowry is one of my all-time favorite authors and she really had me along for the ride on this one. I was thinking more of a young children’s novel when I originally picked this one up but it turned into quite a tale for all ages. Based on a true account, this story was such an enjoyable story.
I was first whisked away to Germany in the middle of 1952 when I opened this book for a group of workers were working in a bog, digging up some peat. What? Lois went into a discussion about these words which seemed foreign to me: peat and bog. Back in the day, this area sounded like a spooky area with some hidden dangers which could have been fun depending on the individual. While the workers were digging, they discovered some bones. Animal bones? No, human. This was not something for the police but it was a human body that had been buried in the bog. Come to find out, over the years, there have been hundreds of bodies that have been found buried in bogs. This was crazy!
The one that they discovered that day was a young child that they believed to be a female. They found some interesting traits on her body which I’ll let you can read about but yep, I totally intrigued about bog bodies and how this this body in Germany was going to be related to the story I had in my hand. Scientists had some theories as to why this young girl died in the bog, at the age of thirteen which I found very interesting. Actually, I found all this information about the bog very interesting and now, I was interested in these bog bodies. Giving this girl a name, which they do to all bog bodies, Windeby Girl was born.
Lois was also intrigued with Windeby Girl and she decided to create a story about her. With her research in hand, Lois constructed a story about a girl named Estrild who became just as real to Lois as the bog girl was that the workers discovered. Lois wanted to recreate what she thought her life was like before she ended up in the bog. Using research and her creativity, Lois weaves a story about Estrild, a girl whose death still remains a mystery.
Lois breaks down the book into chapters, five to be exact. There is History (where this story comes from), Estrild’s Story, History (Lois takes her story and relates that to the history of the Windeby Girl), Varick’s Story (Estrild’s best friend in the book), and History (Lois thoughts and more history about this discovery). Each chapter begins with some black-n-white illustrations, a central theme running through them.
Estrild wants to be a warrior. She doesn’t want to follow in the footsteps of the women before her, she wants more. The males were the individuals who were celebrated and rewarded in their community for who they were. The females on the other hand, Estrild noticed, grew tired and worn. Women worked until their bodies could take no more and for what reason? Estrild wanted to change all that, she wanted to give women an option.
Varick is Estrild’s best friend. From a young age, Estrild noticed how special he was and their friendship grew over the years. Varick has been on his own since he was very young and because of his health, he will not be able to carry a weapon like Estrild hopes to do. What will happen to Varick, I don’t know but I worry about him as the days pass. Estrild knows that Varick knows how to become a warrior and she asks for his help. Early morning sessions has Varick assisting Estrild in the ways of the warrior. I enjoyed these secret meeting. She’s determined to learn and be successful and he’s aiding her although, he knows how wrong it is. The Councilor’s will call forward each new warrior at the spring ceremony and this is the day that Estrild is looking forward to.
It’s the spring ceremony and Estrild is standing amongst the young boys waiting for her name to be called. The anticipation is building and I’m just waiting for something dramatic to occur. Estrild wasn’t prepared for what happens next and neither was I but Estrild must act quickly to try and get control of the situation. Estrild, oh girl……I don’t know if you’re this strong?!? I was enjoying Estrild’s and Varick’s relationship and I wasn’t looking forward to the day Estrild would try to make a name for herself. There is no going back and now, everything has changed. There are more twists to the story and what a fantastic ending to this book, amazing!! 5+ stars!!!