Review: Wildthorn

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: WildthornWildthorn by Jane Eagland
Published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children on September 6, 2010
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 350
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley

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.

Wildthorn is not an ideal choice for those in search of happy fun times all the way through, but definitely an interesting topic not much touched on in teen literature. The first half of the novel switches between Louisa’s experiences in the mental institution and her memories of her life and how she ended up there. Louisa is very sympathetic for a modern audience. The portrayal of the mental institution clearly reveals the horridness of that setup. Troublesome women truly were shunted off into these institutions and they could do nothing to escape. Most poignant is the impossibility of proving one’s sanity. How do you convince people that you are not crazy when they keep calling you by a name that is not your own?

The lesbian angle was interesting too. Finding LGBT fiction for teens can be difficult; I took a course on young adult resources and in the week on this topic, we had no books about lesbians. This book fills a gap in teen literature and does quite a good job of it. Eagland does not shy away from the topic, nor does she overdo it. The story manages to be sweet and serious, a solid, slightly more deep than average teen read. It also has a beautiful cover!

Recommended if you like Sarah Waters, since this seems much like a teen version of Fingersmith.

7 responses to “Review: Wildthorn”

  1. Heidi says:

    Julie Anne Peters writes a LGBT young adult books that are really good. You should check her out. I’ve read most of her books and so have my kids, they are really well done. One of my favorites is Luna about a boy who is transgender and his relationship with his parents and sister.

  2. Christina says:

    I added a couple of Peters’ books to my to read shelf. I’ve run across her before and she did look interesting (pretty covers). I think it’s a shame how lgbt fiction is remotely mainstream. Have you read Will Grayson, Will Grayson? It’s fantastic!

  3. Heidi says:

    Did you mean that lgbt fiction isn’t remotely mainstream? There are a few that are mainstream but very very few. I haven’t read the book you suggested but I just looked it up and I love John Green so I’m putting it on my “to read list along with Wildthorne! Thanks again for the recommendation.

  4. Christina says:

    What I meant and didn’t manage to say was that there really ought to be more. The current fiction available is not reflective of the actual teenage population. In my Young Adult Resources and Services class, we had a week that was supposed to be about lgbt fiction,but really it wasn’t. The only lesbians in any of the books we read were in Dairy Queen, and the main character did not like her friend any more once she came out. It was a terrible book.

  5. E.J. Stevens says:

    Great review! I had noticed the gorgeous cover but didn’t know what this book was about. Adding to my tbr list. 🙂

    From the Shadows

  6. Heidi says:

    Here are a few good ya lgbt authors:
    Brent Hartinger author of the Geography Club
    Alex Sanchez author of Rainbow Boys
    Perry Moore by Hero
    Lauren Myracle by Kissing Kate

  7. Christina says:

    I will definitely check those out!

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