Thursday, October 15, 2015

Ship of Dolls (2014)

Ship of Dolls. Shirley Parenteau. 2014. Candlewick. 272 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Did I enjoy reading Shirley Parenteau's Ship of Dolls? Yes! I adore historical fiction, and this one was a satisfying read.

Lexie Lewis is living with her grandparents (paternal grandparents) in Portland, Oregon. She wishes she was still living with her mother, but, her mother has remarried; that in addition to their big dreams of show business makes it inconvenient to have Lexie with them. The novel is set circa 1926 and 1927.

Lexie's school is participating in the Friendship Doll Exchange with Japan. Lexie is very involved in this. She longs to be able to touch the doll, hold the doll. But, of course, this isn't allowed. The teacher can't let her students play with the doll that is to be sent to Japan later that year. When Lexie breaks a rule, she is "punished" by her teacher. (Does the teacher really view this as punishment, or is she sympathetic to young Lexie?) Her punishment is that she has to sew an outfit for the doll to pack in her trunk. True Lexie can't sew and she's never made a pattern before, but, Lexie will get to be more involved with the doll than her classmates. For anyone who sews knows that you have to take measurements and try on the garment(s) throughout the process.

In addition to being about the doll exchange, the novel is very much a coming-of-age story focused on family, friendship, longing and belonging.

Lexie learns early on in the novel that whoever writes the best letter (for the assignment) gets to travel with the doll to San Francisco. She MUST win. Not because she's obsessed with the doll. But because her mother now lives there and if she wins she could spend some time with her...

I enjoyed spending time with Lexie. But I also enjoyed spending time with her grandparents. I really did. This one was definitely a character-driven novel. It is relatively slow-paced.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

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