… life on a farm in the great country of Goredd? Rachel Hartman’s graphic novel, Amy Unbounded: Belondweg Blossoming, follows the title character through the summer she turns ten, a time filled with celebrations and troubles. Amy reads (most of) the story of Queen Belondweg, who united Goredd long ago. She also learns more about the role of women in modern Goredd. Her mother is a barbarian who settled in Goredd and learned to make clocks. Amy’s best friend’s sister raised him and most of his brothers after their mother died, but she has no rights and will become a servant in her own home when her oldest brother marries. Amy’s mother’s best friend is a wealthy textile merchant, but she will lose her business if she does not marry by the queen’s deadline; despite this, she runs her kitchen as an open salon where women of all classes can gather and talk freely.
Ms Hartman gives us an intriguing look at rural life in an alternate Middle Ages. Amy is free spirited and energetic — teasing family and friends, playing pranks, and making up silly songs. However, she is also starting to grow up and realize some of the serious aspects of life — arranged marriages, having her best friend sent off to be fostered in another village. She learns a bit about love, too, from her own first crush to a friend who falls for a dragon in human form. Not everything ends well, but a number of crises are averted (or at least made less awful), and plenty of good can be found at the end.
The story is fun and thought provoking. The black and white artwork is elegantly spare, giving every detail needed without being busy or overwhelming. Amy Unbounded has a similar feel to Amelia Rules — fresh, energetic characters who deal with serious problems without losing their sense of fun and adventure. Try it!
This graphic novel is set in the same world as Rachel Hartman’s novel, Seraphina.
Reviewed by Fran (staff)