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The Revenant 4 1 2 starsThis book is everything I wanted Saundra Mitchell s The Vespertine to be a well developed historical with fantasy elements, an intriguing mystery, and inspiring characters.But the best part of this book was the incredibly unique setting I have never read a YA book that dealt directly with Native American culture, and this one managed to portray it with historical accuracy and without any stereotyping or judgment There were so many instances where Gensler could have reverted to coll 4 1 2 starsThis book is everything I wanted Saundra Mitchell s The Vespertine to be a well developed historical with fantasy elements, an intriguing mystery, and inspiring characters.But the best part of this book was the incredibly unique setting I have never read a YA book that dealt directly with Native American culture, and this one managed to portray it with historical accuracy and without any stereotyping or judgment There were so many instances where Gensler could have reverted to college professor symdrome i.e looking at history with modern ideals and judging historical persons based on today rather than his or her day But she didn t It was so refreshing There was no scolding of historical politics or persons or cultures Nothing She showed how many people didn t trust or like Indians, but she doesn t dwell on that There s enough talk about it to let us know that it s there, but it wasn t too much that I was rolling my eyes.Another aspect that I loved was that there was an interracial relationship See my rant about the lack of those in YA here Instead of Willie falling for a fellow teacher or a rich white boy, she instead finds herself drawn to a Cherokee student from the male seminary And after he expresses his feelings for her, she worries that he won t respect her because she s not Cherokee, and he worries that she won t like him because he is Cherokee It was sweet and a wonderful example of realistic tension in a relationship.The ghost aspect of the book is also pretty creepy but not in a horror story type of way It was well balanced with the rest of the story, offering enough suspense to keep you reading but not overwhelming you I m not sure I would have been as brave as Willie What you won t find in this book 1 A love trianglePraise the Lord 2 A cliffhanger endingThis is a standalone book, something you don t see much in YA these days3 Lackluster proseThe writing was really impressive, especially for a debut author I never felt pulled out of the story by slips into modern language Gensler was descriptive but not too much so that I was bored The pacing was great, as well.4 Flat charactersGranted, the female characters were better developed, if only because they were givenface time But I thought Willie and her friends and the female students were all well developed I even loved the headmistress of the seminary There is a great cast of supporting characters that pushed the plot along.5 A lack of themeAt its core, this book is about growing up At the beginning of the story, Willie is a bit of a selfish brat, prone to lying, and desperate to escape her stepfather because she s ashamed of him for no real reason But as she fakes her way through teaching a year at the seminary, she grows into a responsible young woman who values her family and learns from her mistakes This is definitely a coming of age novel, which is what YA should be.So, yeah, I loved this book It is one of my new favorite historical reads I would have given it five stars, except I had a few gripes with the romance Essentially, it wasn t strong enough for me I loved Willie, but I never saw what she saw in Eli Sevenstar because we didn t get to see enough scenes with him The romance wasn t really necessary to the story, so I would have preferred Gensler to either cut it out or flesh it out someEither way, the change would have made this a five star read for me.As is, however, this is still an amazing book, especially for a debut novel It was original which is hard to achieve these days and interesting and really just a great read I would recommend it to anyone but especially those who enjoy historical with a pinch of fantasy Wonderful On a side note, I fear that this book won t get much hype because it s a historical novel But it SHOULD This is an amazing read I finished reading Sonia Gensler s THE REVENANT last night and closed it with a sigh You know the feeling of finishing a book that s just so good you worry that you won t find another one you love as much for a long time It s one of those books, and while I couldn t put it down to make it last longer, I was so sad to be finished.THE REVENANT is a delicious blend of historical fiction, mystery, and ghost story set at a Cherokee boarding school near the turn of the century When 17 year old Will I finished reading Sonia Gensler s THE REVENANT last night and closed it with a sigh You know the feeling of finishing a book that s just so good you worry that you won t find another one you love as much for a long time It s one of those books, and while I couldn t put it down to make it last longer, I was so sad to be finished.THE REVENANT is a delicious blend of historical fiction, mystery, and ghost story set at a Cherokee boarding school near the turn of the century When 17 year old Willemina Hammond arrives to take a teaching position, it s under false pretenses, but her phony identity soon becomes the least of her concerns when she s assigned to the bedroom of a former student who might have been murdered The students are convinced her ghost haunts the school, and it seems to be growing everviolent As she struggles to carry out her role as teacher and gain the respect of her students, Willie is pulled deeper and deeper into the mystery until her very life is at stake.There is so much to love in this story characters who are complex and multi faceted, especially the main character, Willie, who is at once strong, spirited, and flawed Her coming of age through the trials of this ghost story mystery is believable and poignant, and at the same time, the story sacrifices nothing in terms of its harrowing plot I was turning pages as fast as I could at one point, then found myself going back to appreciate the gorgeous prose once I d found out what happened.The writing in this book reminds me of the very best of Jennifer Donnelly s work stunning and seemingly effortless In fact, I was bewildered when my cell phone rang while I was reading yesterday It took me a minute to remember that I wasn t actually curled up in the library of a 19th century boarding school I took the book with me when I went to rescue my husband, whose car had died, just in case there were any red lights along the way Teachers, give this one to Donnelly fans, for sure, but I think it will also appeal to your supernatural romance readers and will be a perfect transition for those who have read their fill of Twlight esque titles and are looking for somethingYou won t want to miss this book due out in June from Knopf When Willie arrives in Indian Territory, she knows only one thing no one can find out who she really is To escape a home she doesn t belong in any, she assumes the name of a former classmate and accepts a teaching job at the Cherokee Female SeminaryNothing prepares her for what she finds there Her pupils are the daughters of the Cherokee elite educated and wealthy than she, and the school is cloaked in mystery A student drowned in the river last year, and the girls whisper that she was killed by a jealous lover Willie s room is the very room the dead girl slept in The students say her spirit haunts itWillie doesn t believe in ghosts, but when strange things start happening at the school, she isn t sure any She s also not sure what to make of a boy from the nearby boys school who has taken an interest in her his past is cloaked in secrets Soon, even she has to admit that the revenant may be trying to tell her something The Revenant is a historical fiction coming of age story peppered with mysterious and ghostly events.This story follows Willie, who has assumes the name of her former classmate to become a teacher in Indian Territory to escape returning to the home she hates When she arrives at the school, she discovers that one of the students died the previous year and strange occurrences have been happening This main plot line was intriguing and unfolded at an even pace, but there is also a romantic subplot The Revenant is a historical fiction coming of age story peppered with mysterious and ghostly events.This story follows Willie, who has assumes the name of her former classmate to become a teacher in Indian Territory to escape returning to the home she hates When she arrives at the school, she discovers that one of the students died the previous year and strange occurrences have been happening This main plot line was intriguing and unfolded at an even pace, but there is also a romantic subplot that didn t quite match up to it That being said, the story moved along quickly and was easy to read.Some of the characters in this book werefleshed out than others, and many fell a bit flat But the way the author used them to explore the social structures in that place and time was nicely done However, the strongest aspect of The Revenant is the setting The boarding school and its surroundings were described clearly and were easy to visualize Which makes sense given the author s note at the end explaining all of Gensler s research and how she tried to remain true to the history of the setting.In the end, I liked The Revenant But I can t help but think that if I d come across it when I was a teenager, I probably would have enjoyed it a lot This book was ok I wanted to read this book for the plot I love any type of hauntings or mysterious and it got even better when I found out there was people who d been murdered I think in general that if there s some type of tragic murder as a backstory it makes thingsinteresting This book wasn t at all scary It wason the creepy side There were several instances where I went oh sh , but nothing that kept me up at night I liked how the clues unfolded and the scenes about di This book was ok I wanted to read this book for the plot I love any type of hauntings or mysterious and it got even better when I found out there was people who d been murdered I think in general that if there s some type of tragic murder as a backstory it makes thingsinteresting This book wasn t at all scary It wason the creepy side There were several instances where I went oh sh , but nothing that kept me up at night I liked how the clues unfolded and the scenes about discovering the culprit freaked me out a bit.Willie was alright She was always blushing, which I found annoying But I guess girls back in the 1800 s had different opinions about what was considered inproper or not I downright hated Fannie, especially towards the end She was a total biotch and part of me wanted the ghost to smack her in her over priviliged face I didn t like the end at all I liked how the whole mystery of Ella s death was solved and I thought this book was pretty good But then it goes on for 40 or sopages about boring housechores and newborn kittens I was like REALLY I felt like it should have ended after the whole discovery about the culprit and then maybe take on a fewpages about the complications of Willie s future Also, I hated the part of the end with Eli I liked Willie and his romance It was cute and a bit innocent It wasn t anything over the top or hoish It just seemed like two people who had a crush on each other, but then the end crapped all over that view spoiler Eli shows up at Willie s farm house He confesses how he s madly in love with her and proposes hide spoiler I just kept thinking to myself, really is this serious First off, Eli and only a handful of interactions A few of them were really cute and at most they kissed, but the rest of their times were awkward and nothing much was said I could understand how this could have happened over time because they had chemistry and potential However, I thought it was a bit ridiculous While I thought the outcome was a bit forced, I didn t like Willie s answer reaction to him view spoiler She says she can t marry him, she has to help out her bros and sis, and blah blah blah OMG I don t know about anybody else, but I would ve ran off with Eli Pretty much everything was planned out and she could ve done everything she wanted to achieve hide spoiler Aside from what I mentioned I don t really have much to say about this book It wasn t bad and it wasn t amazing either Interesting premises on this book girl murdered by drowning haunts Cherokee National Female Seminary in the mid 19th century.Wilhelmina Hammond is summoned home from school to help tend the family farm Resentful of the summons, Willie assumes a classmates identity and takes off for Indian Territory Oklahoma to be a teacher at the Cherokee National Female Seminary She immediately begins to have problems with a trio of cousins who are too big for their britches On top of dealing with diffi Interesting premises on this book girl murdered by drowning haunts Cherokee National Female Seminary in the mid 19th century.Wilhelmina Hammond is summoned home from school to help tend the family farm Resentful of the summons, Willie assumes a classmates identity and takes off for Indian Territory Oklahoma to be a teacher at the Cherokee National Female Seminary She immediately begins to have problems with a trio of cousins who are too big for their britches On top of dealing with difficult students, there are rumors of a ghost that is haunting the building When strange things begin happening throughout the building, Willie begins to wonder.So, I have quite a few issues with this book 1 The author gives away the ending far too quickly.2 The climax of the book is much too early in the book.3 This author obviously has a love affair with The Anne of Green Gables series because there are far too many similarities to ignore For example, the repeated use of kindred spirits, the difficulties with a girls only classroom, problems with several students from one family, putting on a play, having the same love of literature and the theater, a kinship with one particular student who is often picked on by othersI kept finding myself wanting to tell this author to find her own story and write it A good historical novel about a non standard place a Midwestern Cherokee girls school Moderately suspenseful Gothic ghost story with a bit of romance Major characters had at least a bit of three dimensionality to them that kept them from being entirely stock characters The plot was somewhat predictable but did have some twists.One thing I liked about the story was the fascinating and respectful insight into the nature and social structure of middle class and to a lesser extent, poor Nativ A good historical novel about a non standard place a Midwestern Cherokee girls school Moderately suspenseful Gothic ghost story with a bit of romance Major characters had at least a bit of three dimensionality to them that kept them from being entirely stock characters The plot was somewhat predictable but did have some twists.One thing I liked about the story was the fascinating and respectful insight into the nature and social structure of middle class and to a lesser extent, poor Native American young women.That being said, there was nothing about the story that set me on fire But then, I am a hard grader in order to make good use of the distinctions between three, four and five stars or this would have gotten three stars Recommended for teen girls who like supernatural stories and or historical romance Book 17 for 2011 There are so many things I loved about this book I loved the setting of the girls boarding school in Indian country.I loved the feel of the novel as it was so Libba Bray in the language.I loved the romance as it gave just enough to keep me wanting.And most of all, I loved that the main character had a who subplot of her own that made her so much deeper of a character The novel could have been an exceptional ghost story with a murder mystery twist But instead, it was an Book 17 for 2011 There are so many things I loved about this book I loved the setting of the girls boarding school in Indian country.I loved the feel of the novel as it was so Libba Bray in the language.I loved the romance as it gave just enough to keep me wanting.And most of all, I loved that the main character had a who subplot of her own that made her so much deeper of a character The novel could have been an exceptional ghost story with a murder mystery twist But instead, it was an exceptional ghost story with a murder mystery twist with a main character who had a BIG SECRET Loved that It was written masterfully and convincingly It s really a book you don t want to miss Recommended for girls sixth grade and up I have never reviewed a book written by a friend and colleague before I taught with Sonia, and felt like I identified most deeply to Willie s struggles as a teacher Those self doubts will resonate with every teacher But this book is so muchthan a book about a teacher.Willie comes alive from the first page when we discover she s a liarshe has run away from her family who wants her to leave school She s swiped another girl s teaching certificate and has run away to Oklahomato the C I have never reviewed a book written by a friend and colleague before I taught with Sonia, and felt like I identified most deeply to Willie s struggles as a teacher Those self doubts will resonate with every teacher But this book is so muchthan a book about a teacher.Willie comes alive from the first page when we discover she s a liarshe has run away from her family who wants her to leave school She s swiped another girl s teaching certificate and has run away to Oklahomato the Cherokee Nation She soon learns that the Cherokee, are indeed a Civilized Tribe The Seminary she runs to is home to upwardly mobile girls whose parents are rich, educated, and ever so slightly snobbish about their light skin color The girls are prairie Mean Girlsespecially Fannie Since Willie is really younger than her students, she lets them intimidate her at first, until her friend Olivia takes her under her wing.There s also a ghost storythe girl who used to live in Willie s room died under mysterious circumstanceswas it an accident Was it murder Suicide No one much wants to talk about it But strange things happen at schoolWillie hears tapping on her window, the girls often smell river water, the same river where Ella died And rooms would suddenly go cold Olivia believes there s a revenant at the school There s also a love story Eli, oh Eli They meet on the train, but they re both trapped by Willie s lies She s younger than Eli, but he thinks she s a teacher, and she must pretend to be something she s not Eli is charmingseems to be a ne r do well, a failing student with no ambition.The mystery unravels itself, just as Willie s lies unravelI loved the way the ghost story resolves itself.My only frustration is one I often feel with well crafted YA novelsI wish it was a full length adult novel I could tell Sonia knew the entire back story of each character Olivia, who introduces Willie to revenants, and ouija boards and grading rubics Toomey, the stepfather who may not be as evil as Willie first believed And Miss Crenshawoh, how I want to know HER story So, for me, I want to knowabout these characters I want to watch them interact, to think, to dream I wanted the story to have that time to developI wantedOne reviewer compared Sonia to Jennifer Donnelly, and I absolutely agree Each of them has a sense of place and time that bring the story alive They know how to craft intelligent, literate, interesting heroines we want to know I m so proud of my friend, and I can t wait to hold MY OWN book in my hand and have her autograph it After I read it, I had several of my students read it and they loved it toothey loved the characters, the romance, and they wrote thank you notes to Soniathis one is a winner Eh There were two stories here three if you count the inevitable romance as its own arc and I think either tale might have worked, but together they made the pacing all kinds of uneven and played off each other badly The outer story Willie doesn t want to go home to the farm, misses her dead papa whom she worshipped, steals a classmate s teaching certificate and accepts a job in Indian Territory is where the magic never happened, mostly because Willie is a spoiled bitch BUT the charac Eh There were two stories here three if you count the inevitable romance as its own arc and I think either tale might have worked, but together they made the pacing all kinds of uneven and played off each other badly The outer story Willie doesn t want to go home to the farm, misses her dead papa whom she worshipped, steals a classmate s teaching certificate and accepts a job in Indian Territory is where the magic never happened, mostly because Willie is a spoiled bitch BUT the character who comes through when she s actually at the Seminary is muchnuanced and interesting, and it s a little difficult to reconcile both sides of her The inner story the Cherokee Nation and a ghost story was occasionally genuinely creepy, although I did figure out the mystery, such as it was, a little too soon The concept of the inner story a death and haunting mixed up with the complexities of the Cherokee Nation in the 1880s was actually excellent, barring Willie, whose frame story just gets in the way why detract from cold rooms and mysterious tapping and girls being injured by a vengeful ghost while also backstabbing and vying for handsome boys with Willie s agony about not being able to get papers graded on time and worrying about discovery dismissal TheI think it through thedisappointed I am, not only in the book in front of me which I finished, so it was obviously not that bad but by the wasted potential lots of good stuff and a really original setting mixed up in poor busy plotting Sigh


About the Author: Sonia Gensler

I am a former high school teacher turned full time writer living in Oklahoma with my husband and my cat My books include THE REVENANT Knopf 2011 , a ghostly mystery set at a Cherokee girls school, THE DARK BETWEEN Knopf 2013 a Gothic murder mystery set in Cambridge, England, and GHOSTLIGHT Knopf 2015 a contemporary MG mystery about a haunted house film project PLEASE NOTE I m not assigning stars to book reviews any I m really not writing reviews, either Mostly I m just tracking my reading, and rest assured that if a book shows up on my Goodreads list, it was a worthwhile read.


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