Title: Point of Departure
Author: Dianne Kowal Kirtley
My Rating: 5 glowing stars!
It is 1841, and fourteen-year-old Charlotte Mailliard should be concerned with French fashion, French tradition and her studies with her classmates, Napoleon Bonaparte's nephews. Instead, her Papa has decided to move his family to America. Now Charlotte can only think of a strange state called Illinois and the "savages" she will encounter on her long journey. No one could forsee that the family's trek to that frontier would bring them to a Kentucky slave auction, an experience that would forever change their lives. Two decades earlier, another Frenchman, Henri Moreau, a street urchin of Paris, had made his way to that same Illinois, where life was a pleasant mix of his and native customs. But in 1832, that peace was destroyed by the Blackhawk War, an event that tragically impacted Henri and his family. As the nation and the Mailliard and Moreau families mature, it is the common theme of war that causes Charlotte to realize she is but one cog in the endless cycle of love and loss, the bane of a country where another Illinois native son will not abide "a house divided.
This stunning novel about a family who travels from France to the USA (Illinois specifically) is absolutely incredible. I loved it from the very first page! Miss Charlotte and her family are trying to make a better life for themselves in a "new country" and the adventure begins with leaving their home. After three deaths, the family is in search of a peaceful and joy filled new life. When they come in the US, their adventures are crazy! One minute they are doing well, the next not so much. As with any family who uproots their lives and moves to a new country (or just a state!) it is always difficult. With the strong ties the Milliard's have to Napolean Bonaparte, it makes their life even more of an adjustment to "simple" life in rural Illinois.
Dianne created a tail that completely captures the heart and mind of the reader. She transports you to the places the characters visit with vivid imagery and incredible writing skill. She took a common theme - travelling to a new world for a better life - and made it a million times better. I typically find these types of stories over-worked and tiresome, but it was the exact opposite with Point of Departure. I couldn't stop reading this story! I loved every second of it and will definitely be reading it again. I highly recommend this book to everyone, even teens! I could see this being a staple in classrooms some day!
Pick up a copy of Point of Departure on Amazon in paperback or Kindle eBook. Happy Reading!!