GoodReads Summary: When a white servant girl violates the order of plantation society, she unleashes a tragedy that exposes the worst and best in the people she has come to call her family. Orphaned while onboard ship from Ireland, seven-year-old Lavinia arrives on the steps of a tobacco plantation where she is to live and work with the slaves of the kitchen house. Under the care of Belle, the master’s illegitimate daughter, Lavinia becomes deeply bonded to her adopted family, though she is set apart from them by her white skin.
Eventually, Lavinia is accepted into the world of the big house, where the master is absent and the mistress battles opium addiction. Lavinia finds herself perilously straddling two very different worlds. When she is forced to make a choice, loyalties are brought into question, dangerous truths are laid bare, and lives are put at risk.
My Review: This was a book club selection for spring, and I didn’t start it until about two weeks before our book club was set to meet. At first, I really disliked the book. I thought there were way too many characters and that it was predictable and depressing. In order to not disappoint my group, I stuck with it, and I ended up spending 2.5 hrs the night before our meeting finishing it up. It did pick up the pace about halfway through, and I became much more invested in the story. After talking to my group, I did realize it is probably a pretty accurate portrayal of what it was like to be an indentured servant and how servitude/slavery had such a negative impact on not only the servants and slaves but on the plantation owners and their families as well. While I wouldn’t jump to recommend the read, I am glad I stuck with it. It’s been a while since I forced myself to read for several hours, and I was proud of myself for setting and meeting a reading goal as I so often ask my students to do.