Both of these books offer readers a way to ponder important themes and ideas from the safe distance of another world or time.
Lurlene McDaniel and Phyllis Reynolds Naylor "Alice" style "problem" fiction never called to my own entlings. They preferred fantasy and were drawn to the other worldliness of imaginary landscapes and characters with special powers. Still, good fantasy literature engages in important issues, ideas and emotions which is why it continues to be such a popular genre. Carla Jablonski's and Dia Calhoun's novels are thought provoking and memorable.
Silent Echoes by Carla Jablonski, Razorbill, 2007
Lucy Phillips and her father are scamming the gentry of 1880's New York City. Posing as a medium, Lucy pretends to contact their dear-departed during séances. Her conscience pricks her as she offers false hope to grief stricken family members but her empty stomach bothers her more so she endures and aids her father's swindles. To her utter shock, one night in the middle of a séance she hears a real voice in her head begging, " Help me!"
The voice she hears is a present day teen named Lindsey who is hiding in her bedroom closet to escape the alcoholic rages of her mother and step-father.
Both Lucy and Lindsey are shocked by the contact. Lucy thinks she has really made contact with a ghost, while Lindsey suspects she may be spiraling into mental illness.
I am a sucker for time shift-time travel books and I was drawn in to each girl's story. Lindsey is struggling to succeed in school and life while dealing with her mother's drinking problems. Lucy is trying escape grueling poverty. How the girls use this connection through time to help each other is the gist of this tale.
Avielle of Rhia by Dia Calhoun, (a founding Diva of Readergirlz) Marshall Cavendish, 2006
Avielle is the only survivor of a terrorist attack on her royal family. Because of the color of her skin and her resemblance to an evil ancestor, she has always been distrusted and held at arms length by her family and the people of her country. Avielle, herself, worries that the evil magic of her great-great grandmother will surface in her even though she seems to lack any of the magical abilities of her family.
Still in danger from the fanatics, she leaves behind her real identity and finds refuge with a kindly weaver who introduces Avielle to a community of artisans. The weaver teaches her to weave. Not only does she find acceptance here but through her weaving she begins to discover her magical talent and the truth about her great-great grandmother.
This is a fantasy world but the disasters recall the Holocaust and 9-11. Calhoun examines prejudice, terrorism and hate that allows evil to triumph. Avielle can become a true leader when she lets go of her own self-hatred and bitterness and accepts the love and responsibilities of her birthright.