When I think of each of Kristin Cashore’s books, my heart swells. My students often ask me which is my favorite. Warning: ridiculous analogy follows. My mom once told me that after my brother was born, she was afraid to get pregnant for fear that she could never love a child as much as she loved him. Then she had me (followed by my sister), and she realized that she loved each of us limitlessly, and she could pick out reasons why each of us was her favorite. Truly, that is how I feel about each of these books. I love Graceling for Katsa’s fearlessness and power. I love Fire for the purity of her relationships with people. And I love Bitterblue for her resolve amidst conflict. As her world seems to crumble more and more each day, she forges on and stands tall. Each of these books contains a unique, authentic love story that doesn’t overshadow the other themes and conflicts. The love is not just the romantic type, but it exists in the familial and friendship bonds that emanate love and warm readers.
Bitterblue is the sequel to Graceling and companion to Fire. It is unique in that it brings the other two books together. Bitterblue’s reign follows that of her psychopath father, King Leck. His ruthless crimes still live in the minds of her people, and she is determined to make sense of and offer repayment for his cruelties. In an attempt to better understand her kingdom, she dresses in disguise and sneaks out of the castle each night. She quickly discovers that her kingdom is much different from what she expects, and she will have to better understand her father if she is going to properly rule her people.
I was fortunate enough to have dinner with Kristin Cashore two years ago. In that dinner conversation, I realized that she is truly brilliant. When she described her writing process, I couldn’t help but think of all of the literary greats. She seems to hide in her house and put herself into the minds of her characters. To be frank, I’d love to live in her head for a day because she is so incredibly imaginative. I fancy myself a writer, but I know I could never imagine the stories that this woman does.
Bitterblue, was a much anticipated novel for me, and it exceeded my expectations. The story is captivating and unforgettable. I look forward to the next work by this genius–so I can adopt a fourth child to love.
Ricki Ginsberg teaches English and a Young Adult Literature elective at Rockville High School in Vernon, CT. She is on the ALAN Board of Directors and is the 2012 Chair for the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award. Ricki likes anything YAL. She can be found on Twitter at: @ReadwithPassion.