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Eva Ibbotson passed away last week. A couple years back my mom and I stumbled across a few of Ibbotson's YA historical romance books at Barnes & Noble. (More info about the books, click here). The books drew me in right away because they have the components I desire in a YA book.
1.Elegant writing--Ibbotson's books might even be a little too sophisticated for Young Adults (for me, this is a breath of fresh air in a YA book!). Too often I find YA books written on a third grade reading level while the themes/plot/characters are really for older readers. What's happening here? Writing a book with older themes and lower reading level will appeal to a wider age range of readers. Teens will continue to read these books regardless because they can relate to the content, but it doesn't help them grow as readers. As for Ibbotson's books, they were originally published in the late 80s and early 90s, and I think that might have something to do with the more sophisticated writing. Is it more about making money these days than producing books that will challenge the age group to help them grow as readers? I just don't know. That being said, I have to admit in Ibbotson's books you may find elegant writing, but the some of the subplots may strike you as immature. This is probably how they get away with marketing these to young adults.
2.Good character development--You learn a little more about the characters in Ibbotson's books. They feel like real people. That's something I don't find often in other YA books.
3.Detailed Setting--The small details is what makes the setting come alive! In the Reluctant Heiress, we get a real feel for what its like behind the scenes in an opera house.
Ibbotson is also well known for several children's books like The Secret of Platform 13 and Island of the Aunts.
What a great author! I will reread her books one day. If you're going to read any of her books, I'd start with The Morning Gift and The Reluctant Heiress. In my opinion, they are the best of her YA historical romance.
Interesting fact: I read The Reluctant Heiress on a road trip from Seattle, Wa to Long Beach, Ca!