Release Date: 9/6/10 (Hardcover)
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Word Blurb: Insane, shocking, and overwhelming!
"They strip her naked, of everything—undo her whalebone corset, hook by hook. Locked away in Wildthorn Hall—a madhouse—they take her identity. She is now called Lucy Childs. She has no one; she has nothing. But, she is still seventeen—still Louisa Cosgrove, isn't she? Who has done this unthinkable deed? Louisa must free herself, in more ways than one, and muster up the courage to be her true self, all the while solving her own twisted mystery and falling into an unconventional love . . . Originally published in the UK, this well-paced, provocative romance pushes on boundaries—both literal and figurative—and, do beware: it will bind you, too." Goodreads»»Even after reading the delicious THE VESPERTINE, I was still slightly skeptical about delving into another YA Historical Fiction novel. After reading WILDTHORN, I'm reassured that I'm in love with this aspect of the young adult genre. More, I didn't expect this book to be so good. But, this book turned out to be heart-wrenching and mind-blowing - the best words I can conjure to sum up my reading experience of this book... The things they did to this poor girl... It's unimaginable how much more dangerous the past was for women before they had their rights...
I loved Louisa, no doubt about it. A spectacular and unorthodox heroine she was. She even reminds me a little of Amelia from THE VESPERTINE, only definitely much more before her time. I picture a cute, disheveled, and astute professor when I think of Louisa for some reason... Anyway, this girl is plain awesome! She has big dreams of becoming a doctor and dedicates herself to the study and practice of it. So much like her father, the talent for the occupation is ingrained in her and she's outright fascinated by it. For her time, she's considered very unladylike. Unwilling to take social calls and engage in tedious social gatherings, and other unimportant things women were so concerned with doing, Louisa forgoes what it means to be a lady in the 1800s and concentrates on her goal - a basically taboo endeavor for girls of the time period. If that doesn't make her a headstrong and courageous heroine, I don't what does! More than that, she has no problem with being outspoken and speaking against male authority, never failing to let them know what she thinks. She's set in her ways and far from ordinary.
But, consequences for her behavior and lifestyle soon emerge. After suffering from the humiliation of having her love ignored and pretty much rejected, not to mention her mother's supposed upset with her, Louisa decides to go and attend to a family her older brother, Thomas, is well acquainted with. She's tricked and instead taken to an insane asylum, where the people there believe her to be Lucy Childs in which she futilely tries to prove otherwise. From then on, the story becomes one of betrayal and the longing for escape. Things really start to get intense by this point! And I couldn't be more sympathetic of Louisa, as she's forced to endure minor abuse from the authorities presiding over the asylum. No one believes her, and no one cares. What I love most, is the fact that despite all of this pain, the sharp sting of betrayal, and the constant torture of being imprisoned somewhere she wasn't meant to be, Louisa refuses to give up. Refuses to give up hope for escape. Her spirit gets beaten down repeatedly and several times throughout the book she nearly gives up, but instead remains strong and works toward her new goal of attaining freedom.
Her love interest, Eliza, was adorable and sweet and understanding, and, above all, brave. She talks to Louisa, attempts to understand her, and beneath all the dirt and grime and mistreatment evident on Louisa, Eliza falls in love with her anyway. This girl went through some serious lengths to help Louisa escape as well, uncaring of the consequences, which really made me think better of her. And she's ever patient, that girl is! It seems like eternities before Louisa finally realizes Eliza's feelings. Girlfriend, the girl is only stone-faced when you tell her you're planning on going back home because she's mighty in love with you! How many times did I want to shake Louisa, I swear! But, these two really complemented each other, their personalities suiting wonderfully. And I thought it wonderful when Louisa wanted to let it be known her feelings for Eliza and her lifestyle, but Eliza refused in order to protect Louisa further, as it was beyond forbidden for that to happen back then. Great couple indeed!
I suppose it's because of this pair that I enjoyed the ending so much! I was so happy with the way the ending came about, and I loved seeing each and every one of the people who betrayed her sink in deep guilt. It was so wrong what they did! But, even though I kind of would've like to watch Louisa dish out revenge, I'm glad that she grew up in all that time and instead pitied these people. Somehow, that came out to be better than vengeance. I was most pleased though with the fact that in the end it finally becomes a real possibility for Louisa to achieve her goal!
"'Eliza? What is it?'
She turns her head then and her look sears me.
'D'you think any of that matters to me now? You--you're the only thing I care about. I know you can't stay here, you've got to go. But I'm afraid you'll not think of me. I'm afraid you'll go back to your old life and forget me and I'll never see you again.' Her face crumples and she starts to sob.
I'm stunned. I've never seen her cry before..."
Thanks for reading!