Creative writing takes on a special form when an author produces a new version of a famous story. Only a small number of writers exhibit this talent as well as the courage to piggyback on a memorable author’s ideas. Jessica Lawson falls into this category. As a debut middle level novelist, Jessica, faced inherent challenges when she decided to write a prequel to Mark Twain’s classic stories. She gave Becky Thatcher a modern facelift and simultaneously reset the time period for Twain’s memorable stories. Most readers of The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher will be delighted with Jessica’s innovative revisions. If you want to learn more about Jessica, check out her recent interview.
Anyone who is familiar with the characters from the Adventures of Tom Sawyer and the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn will recognize the names of the key players. In The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher, Jessica has taken creative license to change the background and the traits of these notable characters. Likewise, she sets the time period more than a decade before the original versions. Thus, the book can be read separately or as a companion piece. Reading more than one book enables readers to compare and contrast different perspectives and voices.
Despite these alterations, the original tone of the story remains. Readers will take a journey back to a small Missouri town in the 19th century. Jessica weaves together multiple layers of intrigue that will keep the average middle level reader engaged.
Some will show compassion for the Widow Douglas’ plight. Few youngsters like to see anyone falsely accused of being a witch and will root for characters who seek justice. Others will be annoyed with Tom Sawyers ambition to be a tattletale. Becky’s high-spirited character will appeal to individuals who admire characters who buck authority. Together with her best friend, Amy Lawrence, the duo undertakes fearless late night escapades. Becky’s mischievous behavior is fueled by the memories of her deceased brother. These positive flashbacks keep her on an even keel. Becky’s response to her brother’s tragic death is contrasted with her mama’s debilitating depression.
Becky’s thoughts illustrate this dichotomy. “I felt his warmth, and for some reason my mind drifted to the coldness of Mama. I suspected that, for her, the thought of Jon was still a place of darkness.” 164
As a writer in the 21st century, Jessica exercised her option to create a precocious and adventurous tomboy whereas the constraints of 19th century Midwestern American society may not have permitted earlier writers to express such audacious female behavior. Today’s middle level readers will certainly cheer on Becky antics. In the process, they will have fun reading about her adventures and get a glimpse of small town American life in the 19th century .
In exchange for an honest interview and review, Jessica sent me a copy of The Actual & Truthful Adventure of Becky Thatcher. Jessica is participating in a book giveaway. Remember to leave a comment on this blog so that you will be eligible. Winners must live in the United States or Canada.
Anyone who leaves a comment on this blog by Sunday, September 7 will be eligible for a book giveaway.Jessica Lawson will send the randomly selected winner an autographed copy of The Actual & Truthful Adventure of Becky Thatcher.
Sandra Bornstein is the author of MAY THIS BE THE BEST YEAR OF YOUR LIFE. It is available on Amazon. Sandra’s memoir highlights her living and teaching adventure in Bangalore, India. She is a licensed Colorado teacher who has taught K-12 students in the United States and abroad as well as college level courses. Sandra is married and has four adult sons. The memoir was a finalist in the Travel category for the 2013 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, the 2013 International Book Awards, the 2013 National Indie Book Excellence Awards, the 2013 USA Best Book Awards, and received an Honorable Mention award in the Multicultural Non-Fiction category for the 2013 Global ebook Awards.