Title: Amber and Clay
Author: Laura Amy Schlitz
Setting: Ancient Greece
Recommended Age: Middle Grade
What it’s about…
Amber and Clay is a part-verse, part-prose novel about two young people’s whose destinies are linked by fate and a mother’s love. Rhaskos is a Thracian slave boy who longs to draw horses. Melisto is an Athenian citizen’s daughter who wishes to run wild and free as a bear. Divided by distance and separated by the bounds of privilege, Rhaskos and Melisto know nothing of the other’s greatest dreams and deepest secrets. But the two children’s lives become intertwined when Rhaskos’s mother is sold to Melisto’s father, and their destinies are sealed when tragedy strikes. Told from multiple perspectives (including gods), Amber and Clay is an epic story of bonds broken and oaths kept.
My hot take…
This book reads like it sprung from the brain a citizen of ancient Athens. Characters speak and opine with the sensibilities of another civilization which deepens the already impressive verisimilitude of Schlitz’s world. Schlitz seems to trust her audience implicitly and offers a wonderful author’s note on the time period and her choices for that extra curious reader. Multiple viewpoints provide insight and humor, whether we’re watching Rhaskos mourn the loss of his mother, or listening to Hermes make fun of everything humans hold so dear. Perhaps the most unexpected viewpoint is that of the nameless academics whose pontifications on the meaning of ancient artifacts frame the story. With each shard of pottery they pour over we’re reminded that the objects that stand the test of time only tell one iota of the story of the people who once held them.
You might like this book if you enjoy: Ghost stories, antiquities, and thunder storms.