The Plot: Two children in ancient Greece strive against the fate into which they were born. Melisto is an aristocratic girl who struggles against the conventional path of womanhood that her mother wants for her. Rhaskos is a slave boy who works against punishing circumstances to free himself. Both children question their role in the roiling society of Greece and Athens and seek more than just the limited roles prescribed to them.
My Take: This is a powerful book that kept me interested from the first page. The suffering endured by Rhaskos captures the reader early on and we find ourselves yearning for this boy to attain some sense of healing and freedom. I was also interested in Melisto’s anger towards her mother and even her recalcitrance when a member of the cult of Artemis. The supporting cast of characters is also interesting, notably Rhasko’s mother who bears an extraordinary amount of suffering.
Laura Amy Schlitz clearly did a great deal of historical research in writing this novel and it shines through without slowing down the story. I felt that I learned so much about ancient Greece and Athens and what it was like living in those times.
My library shelves this book in the Juvenile Fiction section, but this is clearly a book for Teens/Young Adult. There is animal sacrifice, a great deal of ‘body awareness,’ as well as indirect mention of rape. 13 and up is probably the right age to read and appreciate this wonderful book.
One Interesting Note About The Author: According to her agent’s info page, Laura Amy Schlitz continues to work as a lower school librarian. I am astounded (and jealous!! J ) that she has the ability to work as a librarian and craft a masterpiece like ‘Amber and Clay!”