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Blood Secret

Review

Blood Secret

Teenager Jerry hasn't been the same since her irresponsible mother disappeared years ago. What began as a conscious decision to stop speaking has become a way of life: "She could bury the longing for her mother in this silence…. So many years had passed now and with every year she buried the longing deeper, the memory of her voice deeper into the good dirt of the silence." Shuttled from foster home to children's home, unable to be reached by well-meaning social workers and priests, Jerry may finally have a chance for a real family with her great-great aunt Constanza, an accomplished baker in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

As Jerry comes to know Constanza and explore her adobe house, she begins to suspect that other secrets, other voices, are buried there. When she opens a trunk in the basement, she hears children's voices…and finds herself transported to fourteenth-century Spain, seeing the world through the eyes of Miriam, the daughter of a family of lace makers. As Jerry explores the trunk's secrets, she uncovers answers to many of her questions. Why does Aunt Constanza light candles on Friday evenings? Why does she throw a piece of dough in the fire before baking her delicious bread? Why do both Jerry and Constanza rub their heads when they are anxious?

Jerry discovers a historical root for almost all her questions, and also learns that she is not the first one in her family to bury her sorrows in silence. As she learns more about her family's rich and troubled heritage, she finds herself questioning everything: her traditions, her name, even her Catholic faith. She also finally, gradually, discovers her long-buried voice again.

With BLOOD SECRET, Kathryn Lasky has constructed a compelling story that stretches across centuries. Lasky successfully creates two convincing, evocative settings: the present-day Southwest and Inquisition-era Spain. As the narrative reaches back in time, the family relationships can be a little confusing, so the extensive family tree at the back of the book is extremely useful. Although the historical passages sometimes read like a history lesson, they are effectively integrated with the modern-day setting, and dedicated readers will probably appreciate this opportunity to learn more about a little-known, sometimes gruesome period in history.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on July 27, 2004

Blood Secret
by Kathryn Lasky

  • Publication Date: July 27, 2004
  • Genres: Historical Fiction
  • : 256 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTeen
  • ISBN-10: 0060000651
  • ISBN-13: 9780060000653