Thursday, March 29

Sisters of Glass: Book Review

Sisters of Glass
by Stephanie Hemphill
Knopf Books for Young Readers
March 27th 2012
Young Adult
Sister Rivalry

Maria is the younger daughter of an esteemed family on the island of Murano, the traditional home for Venetian glassmakers. Though she longs to be a glassblower herself, glassblowing is not for daughters—that is her brother's work. Maria has only one duty to perform for her family: before her father died, he insisted that she be married into the nobility, even though her older sister, Giovanna, should rightfully have that role. Not only is Giovanna older, she's prettier, more graceful, and everyone loves her.

Maria would like nothing more than to allow her beautiful sister, who is far more able and willing to attract a noble husband, to take over this role for her. But they cannot circumvent their father's wishes. And when a new young glassblower arrives to help the family business and Maria finds herself drawn to him, the web of conflicting emotions grows even more tangled.
Written similar to verse, which makes for a quick read. The story is simple and allows your imagination room to play where there is limited description. I didn't find it lacking and was able to read it in one sitting.
I enjoyed Maria, Vanna, and Luca. The two sisters are easy to understand and even trade places emotionally and physically during the book. Luca is so mysterious as well a deep. There is more than meets the eye to this one.
A great message is incorporated into this book. Maria and Vanna have a few choices to make. Accept that life is going to be miserable or find another solution. Maria is slated to marry a much older man and do little other than be a doll. Vanna is expected to work for her family until they send her to a convent. There is no other way, or maybe there is? Maria sneaks out and befriends Luca. There is also a war waging between convention and modern thinking. The younger generation often finds the expectations of the older generation confining. Maria's father decided, when she was a child, that she would change their fortunes by marrying a senator. To that end he set down a path she could not sway from even after his death. Years later the family has come upon hard times and intends to enact the plan to change their fortunes. It turns out that this plan isn't feasible. While trying to reach it they grow more and more desperate. Far be it for them to abandon ancient ideas and consider that times may call for new thinking. There is a way to respect the past and make a future possible.
The romance, characters, and story are simple and sweet. I really liked this book and recommend it for a light cute read.

P.S. Why is it that marriages back then were between forty to fifty year old guys and sixteen year old girls? Did they encourage this cradle robbing or was it preservation of the species? Does it really take men that long to establish themselves? Surely they weren't remaining chaste that whole time, otherwise their balls would have shriveled up and dropped off. I suppose marrying a woman the same age would have decimated the population, since they were likely infertile.