Children's Book Reviews

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Ah, a Love Story, Yet....

I guess I'm a sap for a good love story, especially one that takes place in a different time and culture. Best of all one that has determined characters and internal tension. After all that is the kind of historical fiction for young people I strive to write. For adults I think of books such as The Thorn Bird, Romeo and Juliet, or Far From the Madding Crowd. Downton Abbey, as a drama, fits those criteria. See, I am a sap! That's why I enjoyed the latest book by Jack Cain, Marcus and Selene in Alexandria. It's my kind of book, yet there is a giant cliffhanger at the end. I need the sequel.

Marcus and Selene in Alexandria is a fascinating read as it plunges the reader into Alexandrian society at the time of Cleopatra. Marcus, a Roman, is an angry 16 year old who is removed from his army training in Rome and sent to Alexandria, where his father is the Roman Legate, for punishment. Selene, the daughter of the richest Alexandrian merchant, dreams of owning her father’s business one day at a time when women are expected to marry early with no other ambitions. Marcus and Selene meet accidentally in the market place where their tutors, sisters, and friends accompany them. After they fall in love, intrigue pursues as they find out that Marcus’ father wants nothing to do with Selene’s father who wants to pander to Marcus’ father for more Roman business. When they see that their fathers will never let them be together, they plan to elope. They are caught and separated. The book ends on a cliffhanger note with the reader having to wait to see if they can ever reunite.

Jack Cain has written a compelling book with well researched details about Alexandrian society. The book successfully alternates between Marcus’ and Selene’s point of view. The reader even gets a glimpse of Cleopatra.
This book is the start of a fine series for young adults. Adults will enjoy it as well. Teachers can also use the book as an illustration for cultural differences and as a glimpse into history as would have been lived 2,000 years ago. The sequel is worth waiting for.


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