Book Review Lyddie | Hamro Patro

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Book Review: Lyddie

   Arya Chhetry - Mar 24 2023

Lyddie is a historical fiction novel by Katherine Paterson that is set in the mid-19th century. Katherine Paterson is an acclaimed American author known for her young adult novels, including the Newbery Medal-winning books Bridge to Terabithia and Jacob Have I Loved. Born in 1932 in China to missionary parents. The story in the book takes place in Vermont, where a young girl named Lyddie is forced to work in a textile mill to pay off her family’s debts. This book tells the story of a young girl’s struggle to survive in a world that is full of injustice and hardship. The novel touches upon many themes, including slavery, child labor, poverty, and the human condition. This book review will focus on three primary themes: slavery and the psychology of acceptance, the struggles faced by children at the time, and the portrayal of emotions in the novel.

One of the primary themes in Lyddie is slavery, and the psychology of acceptance that is associated with it. The novel depicts the harsh realities of slavery, as seen through the eyes of African-American characters. These characters serve as a reminder of the horrors of slavery, and the inhumane treatment that was inflicted upon slaves. However, the novel also portrays a form of slavery that is less apparent, but equally insidious, which is the slavery of the factory system. Children, like Lyddie, are forced to work long hours under gruelling conditions, with little pay or chance for advancement. The psychological impact of this type of slavery is profound, as it forces children to accept their lot in life and resign themselves to a future that is bleak and uncertain. Through Lyddie’s experiences, the novel shows how people can become resigned to their fate and accept their suffering as inevitable.

Another theme that is explored in the novel is the struggles faced by children during the time when the story takes place. Children were often forced to work in mills and factories, where they were subject to long hours, low wages, and dangerous working conditions. The novel paints a vivid picture of the hardships that children faced, and the toll that it took on them. The children in the novel are portrayed as resilient and brave, but also vulnerable and in need of protection. The novel also touches upon the issue of education, as many children were denied the opportunity to go to school, and instead were forced to work in order to help support their families. Through Lyddie’s story, the novel shows how children were often exploited and mistreated during this time, and how they had to fight against all odds to survive.

The book provides a valuable insight into the struggles faced by children during the mid-19th century, such as slavery, child labor, and poverty, which are still relevant today. Lyddie is an excellent tool for developing empathy and emotional intelligence, as it helps to understand the experiences and emotions of the characters, allowing them to connect on a deeper level and learn to appreciate diverse perspectives. The novel is well-written and uses language that is easy to understand, making it an excellent choice for educational settings.

However, there are some drawbacks to the novel. The heavy themes of slavery and child labour can be too intense or difficult sometimes and this leads to there being parts of the book that diminish the development of characters. Additionally, I find the pacing of the novel to be slow, especially in the beginning. While the slow build-up helps establish the setting and characters, it gets rather challenging to stay engaged. Furthermore, the novel can be criticised for its lack of diversity, as the story primarily focuses on the experiences of white characters. While the novel does touch upon the experiences of African-American characters, it may not be enough for some readers who are looking for a more diverse representation. Finally, the novel also portrays a range of emotions that are associated with hardship, including envy, jealousy, and despair. These emotions are all perfectly understandable, given the difficult circumstances that Lyddie finds herself in. The novel shows how these emotions can be both a source of strength and a source of weakness, as they can drive people to work harder, but can also consume them and prevent them from seeing the bigger picture.

In conclusion, Lyddie is a powerful and moving novel that touches upon many important themes. The novel explores the psychology of acceptance that is associated with slavery, the struggles faced by children during the time when the story takes place, and the range of emotions that are associated with hardship. The novel’s portrayal of slavery is especially powerful, as it shows how people can become resigned to their fate and accept their suffering as inevitable. The struggles faced by children during this time are also vividly portrayed, and the novel shows how they had to fight against all odds to survive. Overall, this is a must-read book for anyone who is interested in history, social justice, and the human condition.

Arya Chhetry
Grade: XI, Changla
Roll no: 24006

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