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Seraphina's Circle by Jocelyn Shipley
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Seraphina's Circle

by Jocelyn Shipley

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"Banished" to her grandmother's farm in the country for the summer, twelve-year-old Morgan is at first consumed by her anger at her strict mother, and her resentment at being constantly compared to her "lovely" cousin, Clare. But as Morgan becomes involved in Clare's secret romance, she begins to see parallels between her own experiences and those of her grandmother, whose older sister Seraphina was also involved in a forbidden love affair - an affair that ended tragically. When disaster strikes, Morgan wonders if the past has repeated itself...

This brief children's novel provides an engaging narrative, and a realistic but likeable young heroine. Shipley clearly has an understanding of the intense feelings of adolescence - the sudden bouts of almost uncontrollable anger, the subsequent repentant sorrow, and the confusion of conflicting emotions. This last is particularly evident in Morgan's relationship with her mother, whom she simultaneously hates and loves. Anyone who has been a teen will probably find something in this experience that strikes a chord.

On another level, Seraphina's Circle also functions as a discussion about the nature of grief, and the way in which the young romanticize tragedy. The cousins' "acting out" of Seraphina's story, their almost ritualistic game, is a fairly accurate portrayal of girlhood socialization. In many ways it reminded me of some of the passages in Margaret Atwood's Cat's Eye. ( )
1 vote AbigailAdams26 | Jun 18, 2013 |
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Almost thirteen, Morgan plans to spend her summer training for an all-star track meet, playing rep softball and hanging out with her cool new friend jade. Instead, she is stuck at her grandma's farm for the summer. She and her little cousin Dulcy are drawn to the mystical place they call Seraphina's Circle, under the protective branches of an ancient fir tree. With cornhusk dolls they begin to mingle past with present in re-enactments of events from previous generations. As they fall under the spell of the circle, the cousins become absorbed in the romantic story of Seraphina, their great-aunt who died tragically at a young age. When her older cousin Clare begins to rebel against her own parents' rules, Morgan begins to be afraid that history will repeat itself tragically in their own lives.
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Almost thirteen, Morgan wants to spend the summer with her friends, but her mother sends her to her grandmother's farm to "improve her attitude."

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