Monday, December 19, 2011

Wake Unto Me Book Review

Author: Lisa Cach. Release date: 2011. Publisher:  Speak. ISBN: 9780142414361.
Wake Unto Me, by Lisa Cach
Annotation:  Fifteen-year-old Caitlyn Monahan hopes that the mysterious scholarship she received to a French boarding school thousands of miles from her Oregon home will help rid her of the nightmares that have plagued her for years. What Caitlyn doesn’t expect upon arriving at Château de la Fortune is that her dreams will become more vivid than ever, bringing with them the very real and handsome Raphael, a resident of the Château four centuries before.
Personal thoughts:  I am surprised that I haven’t heard more about this book because I really liked it! It was very well-written and flowed very easily and naturally. Caitlyn is a great character and, despite the fact that she is self-admittedly “moody,” easy to identify with. I really enjoyed the bits of history that the author threw in, including references to the Knights Templar and the de’ Medici family. The romance between Caitlyn and Raphael was also very enjoyable. I am really looking forward to reading Foxfire and can’t wait to see where the series goes!
Plot summary: Fifteen-year-old Caitlyn Monahan feels misunderstood by everyone in her small Oregon town. Nicknamed “moan-and-groan” for her constant depressive mood, Caitlyn wants nothing more than to escape someplace where she won’t be an outcast and where the strange dreams and nightmares that have plagued her for years won’t haunt her every waking moment. One day, Caitlyn receives a strange e-mail from the headmistress of Château de la Fortune, a boarding school thousands of miles away in southeastern France. Not sure why she has been given the opportunity to apply, Caitlyn is even more astonished when the school offers her a full scholarship. After arriving in France and beginning her new life at the Château, Caitlyn hopes that she has finally found a place where she will fit in and where her nightmares won’t follow her. Instead, the dreams become more vivid than ever, and now include a handsome young man named Raphael who appears to be living in the very same Château hundreds of years earlier. As Caitlyn learns more the history of the castle, she discovers that Raphael was a real person, and the adopted son of Bianca de’ Medici, a mysterious woman who was burned at the stake for witchcraft in the 16th century. Unsure if her dreams are real or just a result of her overactive imagination, Caitlyn tries to uncover the truth about her visions of the past, and what part they might play in her future at the Château.
Review:  Full of romance, history, and the appeal of a good ghost story, Wake Unto Me is a charming, enjoyable mystery from veteran author Lisa Cach. One of the strongest elements of the novel are the characters. Well-developed and interesting, it is easy for the reader to identify with Caitlyn and her longing to find a place that feels like “home.” The supporting characters, including Caitlyn’s new friends, Naomi and Amalia, the strict headmistress of the Château, Madame Snowe, and the handsome man of Caitlyn’s dreams (literally), Raphael, add a great deal of depth to the story as well. The history of the de’ Medici family, the Knights Templar, and the crusades create a rich background for the events of the story. Fans of historical fiction, ghost stories, romance, and mystery will all appreciate this novel. Overall, an excellent beginning to a new series that will delight both teen and adult readers. The sequel, Foxfire, is set to be released in summer 2012.
Genre: Mystery/Ghost Story
Reading level: Grade 7+
Similar titles: The River of Time series by Lisa T. Bergren, Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon, Hereafter by Tara Hudson.  
Themes:  Time travel, dreams, nightmares, France, de' Medici family, ghosts.   
Awards/Reviews:  Written by award-winning author.    
Series Information: Sequel, Foxfire, set to be released in summer 2012.  
Discussion questions:
- Why do you think Caitlyn’s classmates in Oregon called her “moan-and-groan”?
- Would you be able to move to France like Caitlyn did? Why or why not?
- Research the history of the de’ Medici family. How did the author include historical facts in the novel?
- What do you think happens to Caitlyn when she’s dreaming?
-  What would you like to see happen in the sequel?

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