Wow. That’s about all I can say. Ok, just kidding, we all know that I am nothing if not wordy 🙂 I loved this book, heart and soul, and I tore through it in an evening (one of the joys of reading a young adult book!).

I had seen this book around at the local book sellers but never really thought much about it until I made the connection that the author, Shannon Hale, also wrote a Pride and Prejudice fan-fic called Austenland.  I’ll have to write a separate review of that later. It was a page-turner, but disappointing for me for a fan-fic. So back with my how-did-I-pick-this-up rigamarolle.  My daughter’s school sent home a recommended reading list for the holidays and had The Princess Academy listed for 6th grade reading. I decided that since my to-be-read shelf was nearly bare (only a bunch of digital photography how-tos), why not?

Why not indeed? In fact, why not sooner? In fact, now, I must get Ms. Hale’s The Goose Girl and read that. The story starts out a little iffy in my opinion. I’m not a fan of books that are meant for younger girls whose focus is on how to win themselves the perfect man. In this tale, Miri, the main character is 14 and sent with other girls in her village away to a “Princess Academy” because the King’s priests etc have foreseen that the Prince should marry a girl from that village. This story totally could have gone the wrong way with making the focus be, as it would seem to be logical, about improving oneself for the boy, doing, being, changing all for the approval of the boy. Not so here and so brava Ms. Hale!

The Princess Academy is all about becoming satisfied with who you are: discovering your talents and developing them, facing your weaknesses with both eyes opened and learning to accept them or try to change them to something more in your favor. It’s about growing up, for all of the right reasons.

The girl does get the boy in the end, but it’s on her terms, and he sees her and evidently always has as the wonderful young woman she has finally recognized in herself.

Delightful. Wonderfully written–it’s easy to understand why it’s a Newberry Honor Book. The characters are rich and believable. And this is so not a book to keep hidden away for the pleasure of only tween girls. This is a book to be loved by all women everywhere.

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