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Ella Wood

Ella Wood
Love. War. Both equally destructive to Emily's ambitions.

Though she left Charleston a spoiled daughter of the South, Emily returns from her stay in the North a changed young woman. Her assumptions about slavery have been shattered, and her secret dream of attending university has blossomed into fierce ambition. As the passions sweeping North and South toward war threaten to envelop the city she loves, Emily must battle her father's traditional expectations in her own bid for freedom. Meanwhile, the real fight may lie within her heart, which stubbornly refuses to accept that a choice for independence must be a choice against love.
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About the Book
Tags: Blue Bookworm, Gold Bookworm, Jena C. Henry, Susan Kotch, Tamie Dearen
Length: 361
For the young adult lover of historic fiction, Ella Wood by Michelle Isenhoff is a wonderful story that follows Emily, whose family owns a southern plantation. After a visit to a relative in Michigan, she comes home to question the idea of slavery which has been a part of her family’s way of life for years.

As she realizes and struggles with the cruelty behind it, she understands that it isn’t something that she should question, or that she can change.

Emily is not like many young women of the pre-Civil War era, however, as she is strong willed and challenges her father who will not support her will to pursue her love of art.

Teen girls will relate to and connect with Emily’s struggle against her father and the expected roles of women during this time period.

I enjoyed the historic aspects of this story, and felt the time period was well captured by the author. For the young adult lover of romance, teens will enjoy following Emily as she is pursued by two suitors.

Don’t be put off by the ending - continue on with the next book. I’ve already recommended this book to some young teen girls, and I look forward to reading the next installment.
“How quickly a spark could rage out of control.”

Many of us have enjoyed taking road trips and seeing the USA. Some of us travel from the snowy north to sunny Florida every winter. We may stop off at Hilton Head or Charleston. Families like to journey east to Washington, D.C. and other historic places. As we enjoy the sights, most of us don’t even think about the terrible strife that our country faced over 150 years ago.

Author Michelle Isenhoff captures the times and the people of 1860 South Carolina in a lyrical and emotive manner. Ella Wood is historical fiction for YA readers, although most ages will enjoy this book, the first of two that tell the story of heroine Emily Preston.

The author tells us at the beginning of the book that some of Emily’s life had already been presented in an earlier book for younger readers. However, even without reading this prequel, the reader will have no trouble being immediately enthralled with the world of the plantation, Ella Wood. Emily, who has just turned 16, has been cosseted her whole life on her family’s beautiful rice plantation.

But Emily is not quite the southern belle that we might imagine. As she becomes a young woman, she begins to see her world in a different way. Her visit to Detroit and her new knowledge of life in the North as well as her desire to pursue an art career lead her to rethink her place in the world. Can she find the courage to leave the strictures of the rigid southern way of life?

The author paints a world that shows the outward beauty of life in the south, but also clearly shows the darkness of the times and the ugliness of slavery. The story provides many gripping moments that will captivate the reader and will also encourage the reader to ponder the meaning and lessons of the Civil War. There is plenty of romance, too.

In addition to Emily, and her parents and brother, the author also provides intimate looks at the slave families that also live at Ella Wood. Lizzie, Deena, and Ketch are appealing characters that enrich the story. You can live out your convictions within the limits of your own authority. You can be an example of gentleness, of graciousness, of kindness, of love. In many ways, Ella Wood deserves a Gold Bookworm. I didn’t give it that ranking because I was disappointed by the ending. The book stops at an exciting part and finishes with an abrupt cliff-hanger. While I understand that there is a sequel, the ending of Ella was jarring and rather unfair to readers. And, I may be over stepping my bounds, but I thought that the cover did not adequately portray what a literary and thoughtful story this is. I recommend Ella Wood to all!
Ella Wood is an enchanting, well-written tale of a young determined woman, set in the deep south on the verge of civil war. As she struggles with an awakening realization of the atrocity of slavery, she also fights against the oppression of her “fairer” sex. At one point in the book, she’s given the advice, “Put your voice in your paintings.” This advice, she takes to heart, though even this expression is a struggle as her father refuses to let her enroll in art school.

The author paints a vivid picture of the south and all it’s beauty and blemishes at the time slavery was a cherished and embedded custom.The familiar arguments put forth to justify slavery are spoken in a believable setting, where all opposed are persecuted and ridiculed. Emily has seen that white people and black people both bleed the same color of blood, so she is compelled to take up the defense of the slaves she has grown to love.

The conversations flow easily, despite the use of dialect and colloquial southern language. I particularly enjoyed the sharp and witty exchanges between Emily and the two young men who pursue her.

I did not read the Middle-Grade prequel to this book, but I didn’t feel lost at any point of the story. I have only two criticisms out of the entire book, and these things are a matter of personal preference. I’m not at all fond of a love triangle in which the girl can’t recognize to whom she is drawn, simply because this is a situation I could never fathom for myself. And second, I don’t care for books that end on a cliff-hanger, and this one certainly does.

Yet despite these personal complaints, I can’t help liking this book and recommending it, whole-heartedly. It is that well-written. I will almost guarantee, if you read this book, you’ll accomplish absolutely nothing until you’ve reached the end of it. And then you will complain that there isn’t more to read. But what’s a messy house and a sleepless night when there’s a great story to finish?
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