Harper Teen, 2014. 358 pages.
High School: 9-12
CML Juvenile Fiction: JuvFic Ewing
Violet lives in a rigidly stratified nation-state with The Jewel at the center and the impoverished Marsh at the fringes. However, for reasons not fully understood, women from The Jewel cannot conceive and bear children, and only women from the Marsh possess the necessary psychic abilities needed to bear the children of the nobility. Violet is taken from her family, sold to the wealthy and powerful Duchess of the Lake, and begins a life filled with every material luxury she could ever dream of. But this life comes with a high price. Violet is stripped of her name: it is illegal to call her by anything other than her auction number, Lot 197. Discipline is harsh and often cruel. The nobility engage in ruthless plots against each other. And then, to her shock and horror, Violet discovers the agenda behind the agenda, and the true price of life in The Jewel.
Amy Ewing writes a thrilling, page turning story. Readers who pick up The Jewel expecting nothing more than The Handmaids Tale-lite or The Hunger Games but with more parties and gowns will find themselves pleasantly surprised by the beauty of Ewing's prose and the depth and complexity of her characters.
The Jewel is a perfect place to start discussions about feminist issues such as bodily autonomy, class, and the ways in which women treat each other in society. Also, it shows how wealth and power aren't always as liberating as one might think; in some ways, the Duchess of the Lake is just as trapped by the system as a woman like Violet. In short, this book "gets it" when it comes to what's at stake when it comes to reproductive rights and the commodification of womens' bodies.
Bibliotherapy Topics: Relationships with Friends - Character deals with issues surrounding friendship, Self Esteem - Character deals with low self-esteem, Self Image - Character struggles with defining self or struggles to be happy with how they see him/herself
Katherine Keller - CML Evening and Weekend Supervisor