The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

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This is the best book I’ve ever read. Even after reading it six times, at the end of each read I still find myself dreamily staring at the cover, regretfully wishing I was at the beginning again, and unwilling to start anything else.  Eventually, I give up the losing battle and re-read my favorite parts.  And there are a lot, since it’s such an excellent book.  Crown Princess Anidori is told all her life that she is special, and grows up isolated from her siblings, preparing to rule the country. When she is sixteen, however, her mother informs her that she will make the journey from her home country, Kildenree to a neighboring kingdom, Bayren, to wed an unknown prince and live with him in the foreign land. After weeks on horseback, Ani’s journey proves to be more than simply uncomfortable when half of her escort rebels against her, trying to kill her in order to send another girl to Bayren as the princess. Ani narrowly escapes, and telling no one of her identity, takes up a position as the palace goose keeper. Here she experiences loss, love, and friendship. The book is fast paced and exciting; hilarious moments mixed with heart pounding ones, woven together with a sweet love story that has a surprising ending. Ani is an accessible main character who has enough confusion and fear to be realistic, but enough courage and spirit to separate her from the whiny helpless heroines we often see. Although it is marketed to young adults, do not be fooled by the princess cover or the reputation as a revamped fairytale.  Shannon Hale did originally write it for adults (yeah, I know my stuff), and it’s probably sold to teens because it’s not inappropriate like some adult novels.  Its lyrical style a nod to classic fairytales, The Goose Girl is accessible to all ages, and is one to read again and again.

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