by Donna Jo Napoli
Again, a beautiful story by a wonderful author. This one deals with an Irish princess and her sister who are captured by slave traders and shipped off to the mainland in the west. They keep their identities a secret for safety, and the princess Melkorka learns that there is power and protection in choosing not to speak...
It's a touching and terrible story, heart-breaking, and ultimately of survival and the will to live.
The one difficulty I had with the story is the ending. I am not still in grade school where I expect a story to happily and all loose ends neatly tied up with ribbon, but there are limits to what I can take from an open ending! When the story ends, Melkorka remains a slave, having lost all family, freedom, and innocence, and she has no idea what has happened to her family (when she was abducted, the family were on the edge of a pivotal struggle for survival). It ends very realistically, if not satisfactorily (though, if the story were completely true to life, I suppose it would have followed Melkorka's story all the way to her death—which most likely would have brought no resolutions, but still—).
Beautiful and haunting.