Mezzowriter's ReadWriter Blog

Reading, Writing, and The Search for Buried Gems of Literature

What I’m Reading #18: The Foretelling March 19, 2010

I’ve liked Alice Hoffman’s writing before.  Her writing makes for a smooth, effortless read.  The cover of this book was what snagged me.

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The Foretelling by Alice Hoffman

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2005

Courtesy of Amazon.com:

From School Library Journal

Grade 6 Up–This atmospheric coming-of-age fantasy tells the story of a teenager who is destined to become queen of the Amazons. The product of a rape and shunned by her distant mother, Rain struggles to find her identity and prove herself. Her first-person narration is accessible while evoking a sense of otherworldliness. She talks of animals and people as sisters. The story unfolds at a measured pace with little dialogue, but the language makes it compulsively readable. Readers will be drawn in by Rain’s attempts to win her mother’s approval even as the teen begins to question the Amazonian way of life and see a new future for her people. Like the best of myths, this story finds truths in details and emotional insights. Not for everyone, but a treat for fans of Tamora Pierce and Hoffman’s other novels.–Adrienne Furness, Webster Public Library, NY
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gr. 7-10. “Some stories are born out of misery and ashes and blood and terror”: Hoffman’s fourth novel for young adults, told in spare, lyrical vignettes, is one of these. In an all-female tribe of warriors, who kill all male babies and reproduce through sex with prisoners of war, the daughter of the fierce queen yearns for her mother’s approval. Burdened by stigma (Rain was “born in sorrow” after the queen’s rape) and by dark prophecies, the girl finds comfort in honing her battle skills and in developing friendships with other outsiders. After her mother dies bearing her second child, it falls to Rain to determine the future of her community–and her own. Many teens, particularly girls, will identify with Rain’s self-doubt even as the young woman senses within herself “a kernel of something that was made out of fire.” At the same time, the alien setting and fablelike narration offer limited opportunity for readers to remain connected with the characters. This will particularly attract girls intrigued by the gender reversal premise and book-report writers drawn by the slender length. Jennifer Mattson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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This was a VERY fast read; I only just posted it on the “what I’m reading” box last night.

Strengths: I really loved this book.  It is, as School Library Journal says, “compulsively readable.”  I loved the connection to the lore of the Amazons, and the evolution of Rain from child, to young woman, to Queen.  The pain she feels at her mother’s rejection of her is palpable without being melodramatic.  Hoffman’s portrayal of the nomadic warrior culture is vivid, believable, and edgy; the nature of how the female culture is perpetuated is discussed just enough to make it clear without being too graphic.  Hoffman’s construction of the narrative is solid and beautiful.

Potential Flaws: I don’t really agree with Booklist’s assertion that “the alien setting and fablelike narration offer limited opportunity for readers to remain connected with the characters.”  It certainly wasn’t true for me, but not all readers will understand Hoffman’s use of that device to convey the nature of the culture and their tendency to fierce loyalty to the tribe rather than individuals.  It could be mistaken for remoteness.

My Rating:

Really a wonderful read.  Solid, at times haunting, with a great heroine.

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One Response to “What I’m Reading #18: The Foretelling”

  1. […] This is the third Alice Hoffman book I’ve read and reviewed, along with Incantation and The Foretelling.  This happened to be in my car today when I went to get my hair done, and I read it while […]


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