Saturday, October 16, 2021

The Troubled Girls Of Dragomir Academy BLOG TOUR

 


Welcome to the Melange - and my stop on the blog tour to celebrate Anne Ursu's latest amazing novel. 

When I was offered the chance to read a digital advanced copy of The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy, I jumped on it. I'm sure I'm not the only one who has struggled to focus on books during the pandemic, right? 

Diving into this novel swept me away. I was captivated by the world building and the characters, so I am thrilled to join the blog tour to help promote this powerful story. I also purchased my own physical copy of the book to share with the students in my school. 


About the Book (from the Publisher):
If no one notices Marya Lupu, it’s likely because of her brother, Luka. And that’s because of what everyone knows: Luka is destined to become a sorcerer.

The Lupus might be from a small village far from the capital city, but that doesn’t matter. Every young boy born in Illyria may possess the rare ability to wield magic, to protect the country from the terrifying force known only as the Dread. For all the hopes the family has for Luka, no one has any for Marya, who can never seem to do anything right. But even so, no one is prepared for the day that the sorcerers finally arrive to test Luka for magical ability, and Marya makes a terrible mistake. Nor the day after, when the Lupus receive a letter from a place called Dragomir Academy — a mysterious school for wayward young girls. Girls like Marya.

Soon she is a hundred miles from home, in a strange and unfamiliar place, surrounded by girls she’s never met. Dragomir Academy promises Marya and her classmates a chance to make something of themselves in service to one of the country’s powerful sorcerers. But as they learn how to fit into a world with no place for them, they begin to discover things about the magic the men of their country wield, as well as the Dread itself — things that threaten the precarious balance upon which their country is built.



My Thoughts:

I have so many thoughts about this book! As I've come to expect from Ursu -  the characters, world building, and powerful plot combined with a hearty dash of humor to create a tale that sucked me in and tugged me along the whole way.

Who will love this book? 
-- Kids who are trying to find their own voice. Marya doesn't really know who she is or where she fits in the world. Isn't that true of so many upper elementary and middle school kids? They are trying to decide if they will follow the path their parents see for them. They are looking for guides and mentors (and I wish for them all that they find someone in their lives who can be their Madame Bandu). They are trying to stretch their wings and figure out how many risks they are willing to take. They will feel seen as they watch Marya on her own path.

-- Kids who love adventure and mystery. I often say this about the books I review here - and I think that is because these are the kinds of stories that draw me in as a reader. I want stuff to happen, but I also want to see little hints along the way that I have to piece together. I know so many readers who also enjoy this, and who love to feel that sense of vindication and/or surprise as the story comes to a conclusion.

-- Kids who are trying to figure out where they fit with their world's expectations. Ursu explores some of the gender roles and expectations in this world, but kids of any gender could relate to this sense of pushing against what is expected of them. I especially love how Ursu shows "feminine" as both things of beauty and respect (with the master weaver and the hidden language of needlework symbols) and things that can be rejected if they don't fit us. 

I have SO much more I could say, but I'm going to end with a bit of "life advice" in the story that Marya gives her brother about Anton in chapter 8. It may seem small, because Anton is a goat, but it really struck me as I was rereading it this week. Here's her advice... "Don't treat him like he's bad." "If you treat him like he's bad, then he'll act bad. But if you say nice things to him like he's worth taking care of, well ... then he'll be good." I've worked with ZERO goats in my life... but an awful lot of small humans. This tidbit of wisdom is the key to everything, friends. As a teacher. As a parent... as a human being. I'd love it if everyone who reads this book could take even just this one thing deep into their heart and remember it always. 



If this book sounds amazing (and it is!) check out my thoughts on some of Ursu's other novels. 




About the Author:

Anne Ursu is the author of the acclaimed novels The Lost Girl, Breadcrumbs, and The Real Boy, which was longlisted for the National Book Award. The recipient of a McKnight Fellowship Award in Children’s Literature, Anne is also a member of the faculty at Hamline University’s MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults. She lives in Minneapolis with her family and an ever-growing number of cats. You can visit her online at www.anneursu.com.


 





Don't Miss Out!

October 26 at 6 pm CT Anne will be in conversation with Kelly Barnhill, hosted by WILD RUMPUS BOOKS in Minneapolis. Please click here for more information.

The Full Blog Tour:

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