Book Review: “The Witch of Blackbird Pond”

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare might be classified as a children’s novel, but my final impression when I finished the book was that a lot of adults could benefit from reading it today.

In the late-17th century a young Kit Tyler travels from Barbados to Connecticut to live with the only family she has left, her aunt, uncle, and two cousins. When she arrives she immediately stands out among the Puritan community and quickly finds that life in New England is far from her comfortable former life in the Caribbean. She does find solace with an old widowed Quaker woman named Hannah who has been cast out and labeled the Witch of Blackbird Pond. Of course, befriending a suspected witch in the 1800s made you a suspected witch yourself, so accusations quickly come Kit’s way.

Now I won’t spoil the entire story but will say that the novel won a Newberry Medal in 1959 for a reason. And this is the reason why I think a lot of adults should read this novel, absorb it’s meaning, and take something away from it. Sometimes I think children’s novels have such obvious meanings and when we read them as a child we might miss it or not fully comprehend it. So why not read it when you’re a little older when you can actually benefit from the lessons embedded within the lines?

I could go on and on about the current parallels of so many of the elements reflected in The Witch of Blackbird Pond. Bigotry being the main one. The prejudice against those not aligned with your beliefs, specifically religious beliefs, during the late 17th century, started a literal witch hunt. The same ideology was seen again in the 1930s and 1940s with the Holocaust. And there are so many more examples of bigotry in our history and in my opinion, a lot could probably have been avoided if we as humans could understand other’s beliefs, not necessarily agree with them, but simply understand them and respect that we can disagree. This novel highlights the bigotry of the time but also shows the simplicity of how far a little understanding could go.

I can’t say enough about the deeper meaning behind this book but I also generally enjoyed reading it. I think the writing was great and even though it’s classified as a children’s novel, I found the writing mature and relatable. I also like the story. Kit’s independent personality and genuine kindness made her a fun character to connect with. And with the addition of intertwined love stories and Kit’s rebellious tendencies, it was a page turner for me.

This book was actually gifted to me by a coworker because I visited Salem, Massachusettes this last fall and I have always found witchcraft an interesting topic. I got so much more out of this book than I had expected and I highly recommend reading it, regardless of how old you are.

Hey! I started a #Bookstagram!
After seeing so many wonderful accounts and diving deeper into the community, I decided to join myself. If you’re on Instagram give me a follow @readwithkj.

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