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Monday, December 13, 2010

Book Review: Mississippi Jack by L. A. Meyer

Mississippi Jack by L. A. Meyer
Buy Mississippi Jack by L. A. Meyer

Mississippi Jack
by L. A. Meyer
Bloody Jack Adventures

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
ISBN-10: 0-15-206003-0
ISBN-13: 978-0-15-206003-9
Publication Date: September, 2010
List Price: $17.00

Review: Jacky Faber continues to elude British authorities who want to arrest and hang her for a litany of crimes against the king in the 5th book by L. A. Meyer in the Bloody Jack series - Mississippi Jack. Jacky is a multi-talented debonair teen who seems to constantly find herself in the middle of trouble. However, because of her gifts as well as the help of her friends, she somehow always finds a way out of one problem, but one step away from the next. Jacky's exploits will keep readers on their toes in Mississippi Jack.

Mississippi Jack begins with Jacky sailing into the Boston Harbor in disguise. However, it's not long before the authorities figure out who she is and capture her to return to England for her hanging. Although her betrothed joins on the journey, Jaimy is helpless in this situation. But, before long, the ship is overtaken by "authorities" who claim they have a right to Jacky first. The British begrudgingly give Jacky over, and continue on to England, while Jacky is freed and able to head west through the American frontier. On her journey, she tricks Mike Fink - a tall-tale legend - into "donating" his boat for her to travel to New Orleans. It doesn't take long for Jacky to build a reputation aboard the Belle of the Golden West as she travels earning money performing and entertaining. Along the route, Jacky finds new friends and foes of all kinds, and she also finds herself in more than a little trouble. But, her motivation is always to reach New Orleans so that she can find her way back to Jaimy. Little does she know, her Jaimy is heading down the river right behind her. Will Jacky stay out of trouble long enough to meet up with Jaimy at last in New Orleans? Maybe - maybe not!

At first, Mississippi Jack is a somewhat overwhelming book. Having never read any of the Bloody Jack books, it was difficult to delve into the plot. Plus the writing style took getting used to as it is written in an appropriate manner for the time, "Oh Lord! Is there not a single part of me that will remain unexamined? Will none of my depredations against good manners and god order and propriety in all their unseemly tawdriness be kept from the world's curious eye?" But, although this was a stumbling block at first, it did not take long to grow to appreciate the characters and to become absorbed in the plot. The way the author keeps Jacky and Jaimy in "contact" is through imaginary letters they'd write to one another. Of course neither one ever gets to see or hear these letters, but the reader feels as if they are secretly an intimate part of the romance. Plus, early in the story Jaimy has a love affair with a young girl who ends up on Jacky's ship. This relationship is a fascinating example of a poor abused girl finding what she sees as her savior in his weakest moment - where he too needs saving. Readers can't help cheering the young couple on, while at the same time worry about how it will affect Jaimy's relationship with Jacky. Another great addition to the plot is the constant flux of real people from the frontier that Jacky hears about or comes into contact with throughout her journey. It lends a sort of realism when she talks about Lewis and Clark's expedition like it's happing right then. Plus, the interaction between the whites, the Native Americans, and the slaves also contributes to the success of the novel. Real issues of the times come to life and are played out in fascinating ways in Mississippi Jack - a truly entertaining read!

Review written by Margo Nauert (6th grade teacher).

We would like to thank Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for providing a copy of Mississippi Jack for this review.

Have you read Mississippi Jack? How would you rate it?

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