Have I mentioned before that I love young adult fiction? Or that I have an awesome internship in the publishing world that introduces me to a sub-culture of educational YA fiction that I never knew existed? Well I do, and because of this I have access to great books like “Wheels of Change.” Based on actual events, this story has the ability to take you back in time to when life was thriving in our country. This book is anything but a boring history lesson; it is about the determination of a young girl, Emily, and the strength of family, industry and friendship.
It is 1909 and Emily Soper is just 12 years old, but she already can see injustices in the world- the fact that women cannot vote or have “boy” jobs like blacksmithing, are only the start. Emily wants nothing more than to be near her father and his barn where he builds carriages, but seeing as she’s a young lady, her place is to be with her mother learning to cook, clean and care for a family. Emily is far from happy when involved in chores known as “women’s work.” Her father humors her every now and then and lets her help out in the barn, but as she’s getting older these opportunities are fewer and farther between. Emily spends much of the story fighting this injustice and proving her place doesn’t have to be in the house.
In addition to discussing gender roles, this story largely focuses on change within communities and race relations. Diversity between African American’s and whites play a big part of the Soper family’s life when their blacksmith falls ill. The Soper family are quick to help care for Henry and his family, but others in the community are not happy about it. This story tackles tough topics with honesty that can be carried over still today.
Darlene Beck Jacobson has hit a home-run with her first novel, the writing and subject matter will remind you of American Girl novels from your childhood. An exciting book with plenty of action and protagonist you will cheer for over and over, Wheels of Change is a book that can be enjoyed not just by youth, but adults as well.