Shiloh Run Press (a division of Barbour Publishing) and the Schoolhouse Review Crew offered us the chance to read and review some fun new YA Christian fiction; The Glass Castle by Trisha White Priebe and Jerry B. Jenkins.
What is The Glass Castle?
Avery doesn’t know. In fact, the only castle that she’s aware of is her own…the castle tree house her father built for her when she was a tiny girl. It is two stories high, with winding stairs, a bridge, a library, and even turrets! Just the place for an imaginative young girl who loves to play the queen, to paint and write. Avery even has her own faithful subject, in the form of her younger brother Henry, who’s 3. In Avery’s opinion, he makes an excellent serf and errand boy.
Avery’s castle tree house is also the very last place that she ever saw her mother.
Today, despite her father’s instructions to do her chores at home, in the cottage where their small family lives, Avery has made another plan. After all, it’s her thirteenth birthday! So instead of staying home and cleaning, Avery decides to go for a walk in the woods, clothed in her nicest dress and wearing the ruby necklace her mother gave her…..and pulling Henry along with her.
But danger awaits them both…not the fun Avery was expecting.
Feeling another’s presence and pursuit, Avery drags Henry along from tree to bush, attempting to hide in the woods which are suddenly very scary. They make one last jump towards the tree house, where Avery is certain that they can hide…when everything goes dark. And when Avery awakens, she’s not in the tree house with Henry, but in a rolling, caged cart with a frightening old woman. And no Henry.
She is taken, miles away from her own home, to a glittering city perched on an island, a place watched over by enormous guards; where she is finally dumped out of the cart into a beautiful room. She opens her eyes to see dozens of older children, all of whom are dressed in fine clothing. And two teens, Kate and Tuck, offer to help her.
And so begins Avery’s adventure, and her exploration of mysteries with no apparent answer or solution. Where is Henry? Where has Avery been taken? Who are all these other children…all seemingly the same age that she is? What happened to the old queen? And how on earth is Avery going to get out of this beautiful and pleasant prison, find her brother, and return home?
Avery has a long journey before her….with these and many other mysteries to unfold.
Our thoughts and impressions
The Glass Castle is the first in a brand-new YA series by Jerry B. Jenkins and Trisha White Priebe. Because of course, Avery doesn’t find the solution to all her mysteries in this book! After 41 chapters, which fly along as you read them, Avery still has more quests to follow. (And Jenkins and Priebe will satisfy our curiosity for more of Avery’s story, in the upcoming The Ruby Moon, slated for publication in the fall of 2016.)
While our family loves adventure stories, my middle-school-aged son, Jackson, regarded The Glass Castle as more of a fairy tale or “girly” book. Therefore, I was the reader at our house. However, Avery is definitely not a “girly-girl.” She is adventurous, courageous, and full of ideas. Her story of diving into a large group of peers and making her own way, building her own cadre of friends, is captivating and definitely keeps the reader turning pages. Avery uncovers the truth for several of her questions, yet at the end of the book there is still much that we don’t know….and will want to discover in the next book!
I found most of the characters sympathetic. But because the book begins with Avery’s disobedience and kidnapping—not to mention putting her younger brother at great risk—parents will want to decide whether their children have the emotional maturity for this book. Of course, The Glass Castle does end up in a sort of Peter Pan collaboration of many children with no adults leading them, and there isn’t a lot of frightening peril against the children…other than Henry’s continued disappearance and the fact that all the children with Avery were apparently kidnapped as well, and are all being held captive. The reader can forget these as he reads, because the story is engrossing and full of adventure. But it’s still the basis of Avery’s plight.
The fairy tale genre has experienced a resurgence in Christian fiction in the last few years, and I’ve truly enjoyed the books that I’ve read in this category. The Glass Castle definitely fits into this genre, although I’d say it’s for a slightly younger audience than the others I’ve read; I think this book would be enjoyed by early teens and older children especially. The Glass Castle is a novel full of adventure and excitement, and as such, would also make an exciting family read-aloud.
You can purchase The Glass Castle by Trisha White Priebe and Jerry B. Jenkins from Shiloh Run Press (a division of Barbour Publishing). And be sure to keep an eye out this fall for book 2 of Avery’s story; I certainly will be watching for it!
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