This book was absolutely lovely! Though, that really isn’t surprising considering that it was a Newbery Honoree in 2006.
Whenever a Prince of Danland becomes eligible for marriage, the priests divine what territory the future princess will come from. This time, they divine that she will come from Mt. Eskel, an outlying mining province that is typically left out. The Princess Academy that is customarily set up for a year after the divination is normally just a formality, but this time, the mining girls of Mt. Eskel will need every day of that year to prepare for the ball at which the Prince will select his Princess.
Miri, a 14-year-old girl, lives in the province of Mt. Eskel with her father and older sister. Normally a girl her age works in the mines, but her father won’t allow her to, and she doesn’t know why. Instead, she works in the house, making the dinner and tending the goats. Not being allowed in the mines makes her feel left out from the village and useless.
When she goes to the academy, though, she learns a lot about the other girls in the village and her own abilities and talents. Miri learns that she has something to contribute.
When Miri eventually learns why her father refuses to let her into the mines, my heart broke. It was a beautiful example of how sometimes parents unintentionally hurt their children although they love them with every fiber of their being and are only doing their best to protect them.
The story is simple but splendid. The characters are absolutely relatable and I love every one of them, even the more obnoxious ones. The writing is delicious, and the character development is so real. I cannot praise this novel enough!
Princess Academy is a delightful story about a young girl learning the value of herself, not only within the community, but simply as being who she is. Miri learns how to follow her heart and her instincts and figures out who she is and what she wants. I wish I had read this book when I was in middle school.
I wasn’t expecting this book to have a sequel, but it does! It’s coming out August 21, 2012! You can preorder it on amazon. 🙂