The Midwife's Apprentice by Karen Cushman

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(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

The Midwife's Apprentice is a deft historical novel of medieval England in which an impoverished girl hopelessly circumstanced becomes a worthy young adult learning the skills, craft, and lore of midwifery—for centuries a profession of critical importance for women about to give birth before medical doctors began to deliver babies. She achieves her position through courage, hard work, a feeling heart, and the ability to transform chance encounters into self-knowledge. The novel vividly depicts its historical period while engaging readers with a heartfelt story, one which should movingly appeal to a wide range of sensitive young adults. This emotional engagement is deeper than just the response to a colorful tale well-told; it is enriched because the novel illuminates universal truths of a kind young readers yearn to embrace.

Young people, no matter how socially disadvantaged and unloved, can improve the state of their lives and the quality of their characters if they summon up the will, resolve, courage, and confidence to...

(The entire section is 334 words.)