Friday, January 20, 2012

My Story: No Way Back by Valerie Wilding

My Story: No Way Back by Valerie Wilding (Published by Scholastic, January 5, 2012)

Eleven-year-old Mary Wade is the oldest of seven children in a poor family living in London in 1789. Her father is usually away working, leaving her mother to care for the children alone. There is never enough money, and they are often cold and hungry. One day, hoping to help her mother, Mary makes a terrible decision that will change her life forever. With the help of her friend, Mary steals some clothing to sell. The next day, she is caught and arrested. At trial, she is convicted and sentenced to death, all for stealing a few pieces of clothing.

Mary spends the next few months in filthy Newgate Prison, wondering what will happen to her. She misses her family and is terrified she won't live to grow up and try to have a better life and have children of her own. Then her sentence is commuted to transportation to the new colony of New South Wales (present day Sydney, Australia). Mary is grateful for a chance to survive but sad she will never see England or her family again. The sea voyage is very long and Mary wonders what will await her at the end.

No Way Back is a bit different from the other books in the My Story series, since it is based on the life of a real person, unlike the other books, which describe real historical events from the point of view of a fictional main character. Mary Wade was one of the youngest convicts to be transported to Australia. She survived and thrived and grew up to have so many children that she now has thousands of descendents living today. It is also not an actual diary like the other books in the series (since Mary would not have had a diary to write in) but is written in the style of one. I enjoyed this book but I wish it had been a bit longer and more detailed. It ends with Mary's arrival in New South Wales and I would have liked to read about her life there. I think readers who enjoyed other books in the My Story series (or other similar series such as Dear America and Dear Canada) would enjoy this book as well.

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