Read between: 20th May- 23rd May 2015
Number of pages: 296
Genre: Middle grade/Historical fiction
Synopsis: Sent in 1910 to live with distant relatives who own a rubber plantation along the Amazon River, English orphan Maia is excited. She believes she is in for brightly colored macaws, enormous butterflies, and “curtains of sweetly scented orchids trailing from the trees.” Her British classmates warn her of man-eating alligators and wild, murderous Indians. Unfortunately, no one cautions Maia about her nasty, xenophobic cousins, who douse the house in bug spray and forbid her from venturing beyond their coiffed compound. Maia, however, is resourceful enough to find herself smack in the middle of more excitement than she ever imagined, from a mysterious “Indian” with an inheritance, to an itinerant actor dreading his impending adolescence, to a remarkable journey down the Amazon in search of the legendary giant sloth
Set in 1901, it is similar in storyline to the Cinderella story but it isn’t a retelling. Orphaned Maia is sent to live with her only relatives, an aunt, an uncle, and their twin daughters Beatrice and Gwendolyn. Obviously they take an immediate dislike to Maia, and decide to make her time there as awful as possible-but they need her there as she comes with an allowance which allows them to have the luxury of dance lessons and new dresses.
There are many things I love about this book- character development, the friendships, and the atmosphere created by the setting of the amazon rainforest. It’s completely different for a historical fiction story.
Maia is my favourite character, quickly followed by her governess, Miss Minton, or Minty, she becomes much more than what you expect of her. On the other hand the twins with their matching dresses and their pin curls are the type of character you can’t help but dislike-especially when they whine.
There are a lot of surprises and drama that keeps the story moving, and it’s great even if you’re not a younger reader. Give it a go, you might be pleasantly surprised.