“She wrote my name in it!” a student exclaimed as she gazed in wonder at the title page to Melanie Dickerson’s latest book, The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest and saw her name and a personal message from Melanie inscribed there.
The squeals of the eight excited girls rang in my ears for the rest of the day—and I wished I had video taped them as we met in the library and I gave them each a book. The stunned recipients of Melanie’s gifts make up what I call the ‘Unofficial Melanie Dickerson Fan Club of Holbrook Indian School.’
“When will her next book come out?” one girl had asked me only the day before.
“May 12,” I told her, having a hard time keeping my secret from her when she groaned in disappointment.
What she didn’t know is that two weeks ago, Melanie asked me how many girls would like a copy of her newest book, and I’d passed on the names of eight young ladies, ranging in age from 13-18, who had read and loved at least three of Melanie’s previous books.
I should explain a little about my students—at the beginning of each school year, students fill out a survey about their reading habits and book ownership. Ninety percent of my high school students don’t own a book of their own. Only about 20 percent of the students have any books in their homes, and only students that had me as their teacher last year can claim to have read more than ten books in their lifetimes. It’s no wonder that the average student reads at the fourth or fifth grade level.
All of these statistics amount to me doing anything I can to get students excited about reading. When I discovered that my girls loved Melanie’s books last school year, I felt like I’d hit the jackpot. I love finding books without the vampires, werewolves or sorcerers that students want to read. Click To Tweet
Even more rare—each book contains a clear message of the Good News that God wants to help us with our every day problems—without being preachy or heavy-handed. Most of my students don’t come from Christian homes, and they’ve had a steady diet of junk from a very young age.
As I passed out the books to the eight young ladies, I reminded them how special they were—the author of the book had given them each a copy before anyone else in the world could buy a copy. And that’s the message of the gospel right there—undeserved gifts given before we even ask. Click To Tweet
But back to the book. The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest is the first of Melanie’s medieval books for older readers. Odette Menkels, the heroine is 21 (not that this older heroine bothered my girls at all—the youngest of them finished the book first). Because of her background, she discovers within herself a desire to help the poorest and most vulnerable of her fellow townspeople—the orphaned and very poor children. While she is certain that God looks in favor at her scheme to steal from the rich by poaching game from the local noble’s estate, as she becomes friends with the young man entrusted by the noble to catch the poacher, she starts to question her convictions.
Odette finds herself torn between her growing attraction for the man tasked with catching her and the respectability of marrying another suitor who’s wealth would allow her to help the poor in a more traditional way.
The author does a superb job of exploring the character’s motives and feelings so that the reader understands why they react to each new plot twist they way that they do. Readers who have dealt with betrayal at the hands of friends or family members will especially relate to the main characters, Odette and Jorgen, as they explore what it means to forgive.
The details about medieval life sprinkled throughout the story make the setting come alive without detracting from the plot.
If you’re looking for a great story with a little romance, a little mystery and a lot of character, look no further than The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest.
If you’d like to join our fan club for a release party on May 12, we’ll be setting up targets and practicing archery on the soccer field. Gooseberry tart, anyone?
Inspire Me Monday Instructions
What’s your inspirational story? Link up below, and don’t forget the 1-2-3s of building community:
1. Link up your most inspirational post from the previous week (just ONE, please).
2. Vist TWO other contributors (especially the person who linked up right before you) and leave an encouraging comment.
3. Spread the cheer THREE ways! Tweet something from a post you read, share a post on your Facebook page, stumble upon it, pin it or whatever social media outlet you prefer–just do it!
Please link back to this week’s post or add the button to your post so that we can spread the inspirational cheer :).
I found inspiration for my Monday at #inspirememonday. Join us! (tweet this)
So, go ahead! Take the plunge and share your most inspiring post with us!