The Gift of Sarah Barker, unlike the fantasy fiction for which Yolen is best known, is an absorbing historical novel. It addresses in frank terms the issues of growing up. The story is especially intriguing because this growing-up process takes place in an atmosphere of self-denial and strictest celibacy. Two teenage characters, Sarah Barker and Abel Church, are drawn to each other despite residing in a religious community that rejects marriage as the greatest sin of the flesh. The community observes rules that keep boys and men apart from girls and women. Members are taught to...
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