Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Book Review: Precious Norman Honor by A.L. Stumo

Supporting local can extend to more than just food. So when a friend of mine asked me to review her debut novel, I jumped at the chance! So this is my book review for Precious Norman Honor by A.L. Stumo from Pella, IA. 
While I am not generally a historical fiction reader, I do love young adult novels. Precious Norman Honor takes a slightly different slant on historical fiction by emphasizing the historical before the fiction. Although I thought this would make for a flat, boring novel (not being a history buff myself), I found the opposite was true. Not knowing very much about Medieval castle sieges, I loved realizing that the castle citizens valued even the weeds in the garden for nutritional value while I cheered Maud on in her attempts to see outside her rapidly shrinking world. Stumo does an excellent job of developing relatable characters and throws in some truly unexpected plot surprises. While our heroine Maud does not seem to suffer the most, she sees the suffering of her friends (such as her best friend Rowena) and family through the eyes of a 12-year-old. As I reader, I felt her pain and that of those she observed acutely. 
  Stumo also shows her literary background with strong imagery threads through the story. Fish are a subtle extended metaphor, and my favorite use of this device is when Maud narrates, "My questions were as numerous as the fish in the Severn River" and later notes, "I sighed as I realized these questions would swim downstream and not be answered." I always appreciate this level of attention to detail in a novel, and Stumo did not disappoint. I would recommend this book for anyone of any age, history buff or no. I am eagerly awaiting her next novel and hope she writes many more to come. 
Precious Norman Honor (paperback)
Precious Norman Honor (Kindle)

Other historical fiction young adult books I've enjoyed
The Golden Goblet
Switching Well (sorry this one appears to be out of print; I still highly recommend it!)

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