Belle and the Beau by Beverly Jenkins
Published by NYLA Publishing(2002)
Ebook ISBN: 978-1641970174
I had the absolute pleasure of reading yet another one of Beverly Jenkins’ book. This time a YA Historical Fiction called Belle(Belle and the Beau). I enjoyed every second of this book and learned one very important fact that blew my mind. Here is a brief summary of this sweet book:
“After a grueling escape north, Belle Palmer is free, yet lost and alone. Separated from her father on the harrowing journey, Belle has nowhere to turn until she finds shelter with the Bests, the first free family she’s ever known. For the first time in her sixteen years, Belle is able to express herself freely-except where her feelings for a certain dark-eyed young man are concerned.
Daniel Best is headed for great things. Educated and handsome, at eighteen he is full of the promise and dream of his people, and is engaged to the prettiest (if the most spoiled) girl around. So when a bedraggled stranger arrives in his household and turns into a vibrant, lovely young woman, his attraction to her catches him entirely by surprise.”
-Blurb is from Goodreads.com
The reason I love Jenkins’ writing so much, is that you can tell she not only does her research but cares about the characters she weaves into the historical fabric. Belle is described as tall, dark-skinned, with short hair and very pretty. She ran away from slavery and was found literally by the boy she will fall in love with.
The events in the novel felt all too real, but that is because slavery was real. Not an imagined history. Belle was unable to read but could sew and cook very well, there were slave catchers in the story that caused a visceral reaction in me and then there was the sweet, building romance between her and Daniel.
I liked Daniel because he was eighteen but already so serious, because helping the slaves is serious business and though he was “kind of engaged to Francine”, an equally beautiful girl- something about Belle made the man in him stand out, but there’s a reason why he feel he must marry Francine even at the cost of his own true love…
Now, the part that blew me away was August 1st. Do you know the history behind August 1, 1834?
In the book, Belle learns that Daniel Best and his family do not celebrate July 4th. They do not celebrate it because what sense does it make to celebrate America’s freedom from the British, when the blacks were still slaves? So, instead, the Best family celebrate August 1st– the day the British freed the slaves in the West Indies.
Told you there is always some truth in fiction. Especially historical fiction.
The next book in this duology is called Josephine. I really hope you check these books out and let me know what you think!
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~The Write Web