Historical fiction is not typically a genre that I run to, in fact I often forget how much I enjoy reading historical fiction until after I have been sucked into a great story. Every year at Herrick, we organize a community intergenerational read in which senior citizens in the community are invited to read a common book with our students and have a book discussion with a small group. It is a fantastic event and in the past we have been able to fill the entire cafeteria with readers.
One of my goals for this year is to read all of the books on the list so that I can really recommend them both to the students and seniors. The first book from the list that I tackled was Black Duck by Janet Taylor Lisle.
I started it unsure of how I would like it, but was quickly pulled into the story’s plot. The story is told by Ruben as a flashback of his childhood. He was a young teen living in a small New England coastal town during prohibition. Most of the locals made extra money by working on the side for the bootleggers. Conflict arose when bigger gangs tried to edge out the smaller bootleggers. The reader is pulled in when Ruben and his friend find a dead body. When they try to report it, the body disappears. Ruben’s adventures with the gangsters and small time rum runners escalates as the story progresses. I absolutely could not wait to find out what would happen to Ruben and you won’t either.
The thing that I really love about historical fiction is that the story keeps me turning the pages, but it also gives me specific knowledge about a time period. When I finished, I wanted to read more about prohibition- and not fiction- the real stuff. Historical fiction is a great way to get students interested in history and wanting to find out more.