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Reviewed by Gabriella Harrison for Readers' Favorite
Girl Gone North by John McIlveen is an absorbing historical fiction novel that follows the lives of two teenage sisters, Emma and Thalia Holden, and the rapid changes that occur with the deaths of their parents as they try to fend for themselves amid the rising racial tensions ushered in by desegregation. Emma has recently moved to Boston from New Orleans to work for a wealthy white family, the Merricks, and Mr. Merrick has offered to pay her tuition. Everything seems to be looking up for her until she receives a call announcing the demise of her parents. As if that isn’t bad enough, the whereabouts of her sister are unknown after Thalia is forced to flee from New Orleans due to her depraved uncle. Emma turns to the son of her employers for comfort in a high-risk romance that could alter the lives of all involved.
Girl Gone North by John McIlveen vivifies the struggle to survive and love freely in an oppressive society fueled by racism. It also offers a nice balance of what could be when people choose to be open-minded and kind to everyone, regardless of race, through the Merricks. This book is a well-structured narrative that pulled me in quickly, ensuring that I connected with the characters and remained invested in finding out what happened to everyone. Observing Thalia grow up and mature was especially remarkable. I recommend this book to historical and romantic fiction fans and anyone who enjoys reading about strong female leads. It is also a good book for teens and young adults.