Alchemy and Meggy Swann by Karen Cushman

Alchemy and Meggy SwannMeggie can’t walk without pain. Her pet is a goose, not a swan. And when her daddy summoned her from the farm to London, she finds the worst pain of all: He doesn’t want her after all.

Karen Cushman filled this story with the sights and smells of medieval London, lovely non-swearing insults, and a wide variety of characters: cheerful, nasty, indifferent. Maggie is not the feisty heroine who never feels sad. She knows she’s too ugly to have friends, and people in the street curse her as a devil-child. Her own dad doesn’t have time to talk to her, and forgets to give her food, or money for food. When she makes a friend, she’s so surprised that she doesn’t know how to respond – and nearly loses the friend.

When Maggie overhears a murder plot, she has to stretch herself beyond her limits and find out what she can really do. And when she solves the mystery and life smacks her down anyhow, she finds a way to keep herself going with the pain – and with friends.

The author note in the back was full of solid historical information, and the suggested reading list in back was great.

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