School Library Journal Review - Convictions

Reviewed by: Paige Rowse

Gr 7 Up-Jennie is in trouble. Caught stealing some moldy, discarded food, she has found herself shackled and sentenced to hard labor in the penal colony of Australia. Silverthorne's book follows Jennie's journey aboard the Emily Anne in this bleak depiction of the situation faced by thousands of British people condemned to similar fates in the 18th and 19th centuries. Jennie grapples with the loss of her freedom, the absence of her family, and new expectations that she is forced to consider. In incredibly close quarters with the sailors, guards, and fellow convicted women, she struggles to reconcile her own prejudices with her frustration at how she is judged by others, eventually building valuable relationships she did not initially expect. This is a powerful historical fiction tale portraying an often overlooked aspect of the past. The characters and relationships are realistically developed with satisfying growth. The events are increasingly horrendous, which at times feels over-the-top, though it is simply a reflection of the historical era. The protagonist enjoys a certain amount of privilege, which allows her to take advantage of unexpected opportunities and a happily-ever-after conclusion. Silverthorne balances historical detail to authentically convey the despair of those on the convict ships with the more uplifting fictional account to engage readers. VERDICT A solid addition for middle and high school libraries, especially where historical fiction titles are popular.-Paige Rowse, Needham High School, MAα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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