Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Book review: Sisters of Glass by Stephanie Hemphill
Fifteen-year-old Maria is the younger daughter from a family of glassblowers in fifteenth-century Italy. Because of the cost of dowries, often a family can only afford for one of their daughters to be married, and the tradition is that that will be the oldest daughter. But in Maria's father's will, he left instructions that Maria should be the one to marry a nobleman, rather than her older sister, Giovanna. Although they are sisters and are very close, Maria and Giovanna could not be more different. Giovanna is a proper young lady, while Maria prefers to spend her time sketching and watching the glassblowing process.
Now that Maria is old enough, her mother, uncle, and brothers have decided it is time to select a husband for her, but none of the men they are introduced to seem suitable. At the same time, Luca, a young man without a family who is known for being an excellent glassblower, comes to work for Maria's family. Maria feels drawn to Luca, but knows she can never be with him. And when her family finally finds a proper husband for her, that man seems more interested in Giovanna than Maria.
This book a verse novel told from the perspective of Maria. Because of the format and the short length (only 150 pages), some of the characters and relationships seemed underdeveloped. I wish the book had been a longer, and I think it would have been interesting if Giovanna's perspective had also been included - alternating viewpoints would have been perfect for this story. Overall, Sisters of Glass wasn't one of my favorite books ever, but the unique historical setting makes it worth a try if you enjoy verse novels and historical fiction.