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Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite
A Buss from Lafayette by Dorothea Jensen is a historical fiction tale set over the course of a week in the early 19th century, as narrated by a fourteen-year-old girl named Clara Hargraves. She lives in a small town in New Hampshire with her father, her brother Joss, and her pregnant stepmother, Priscilla, who had been Clara and Joss' aunt until their mother died the previous year and their father took her as his wife. Each of the seven parts begins with a journal entry by Clara that blends into the actual events in the subsequent chapters. Most boil down to Clara's resistance to her stepmother's attempts to gentrify her, her chores, what she gets up to in her free time, her hoping to do away with her red hair, her dislike of her brother's friend, and a special visitor who shows her a bit of attention.
A Buss from Lafayette is a cute little story, and Dorothea Jensen has written a fine addition to the young adult historical fiction genre. The quality of writing is lovely and the attention to period detail is excellent and comes across naturally, as opposed to feeling like a lesson. Clara is likable and was almost instantly reminiscent of Laura Ingalls or Anne Shirley, but with traits that make her an individual. I'm not a fan of journal entry books because they feel a bit like cheating, but the way Jensen incorporates them works well here. The first entry is slightly overloaded with information, but those that come after are not, while the innocence of Clara's world - and make no mistake, it is very innocent - is portrayed through her eyes. This is an enjoyable read for the mid-grade to early teen groups because of its light-hearted plot and Clara's age, but also for those of us of a certain age who are looking for a tidy, uncomplicated trip into the sunset of the Georgian era. Recommended.