The Executioner's Daughter by Laura E. Williams (Published by Henry Holt, June 1, 2000; paperback reprint published June 12, 2007)
This novel was built upon the fact that during the Middle Ages, executioners and their families were shunned, forced to live outside the village walls and forbidden to attend church and social gatherings. Thirteen-year-old Lily, the fictional main character, is cursed from the moment she was born - her father is the village executioner. But because her mother is the one to assist her father in his duties, Lily keeps to herself in the forrest near their cottage, gathering herbs and healing wounded animals, and taking comfort in her mother when her father distances himself from them. Lily loses that one comfort when her mother sickens and dies. Now Lily is doomed to be her father's assistant at executions. A gentle, quiet girl, Lily cannot bear to see an animal in pain - she doesn't know how she can ever watch executions. But Lily won't resign herself to the fate assigned to her.
This book was an excellant historical novel that brought the time and place of England in the 1400s, gruesome details and all, to life. It was inspiring to read a story about a young girl who chose to fight her place in life in a time when most people were forced to accept whatever their circumstances in life turned out to be, whether they liked them or not. I highly recommend this novel to fans of historical novels ages twelve and up (the more gruesome details might disturb younger readers).