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Sisters of Glass

Sisters of Glass

3.0 2
by Stephanie Hemphill

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Maria is the younger daughter of an esteemed family on the island of Murano, the traditional home for Venetian glassmakers. Though she longs to be a glassblower herself, glassblowing is not for daughters—that is her brother's work. Maria has only one duty to perform for her family: before her father died, he insisted that she be married into the nobility,


Maria is the younger daughter of an esteemed family on the island of Murano, the traditional home for Venetian glassmakers. Though she longs to be a glassblower herself, glassblowing is not for daughters—that is her brother's work. Maria has only one duty to perform for her family: before her father died, he insisted that she be married into the nobility, even though her older sister, Giovanna, should rightfully have that role. Not only is Giovanna older, she's prettier, more graceful, and everyone loves her.

Maria would like nothing more than to allow her beautiful sister, who is far more able and willing to attract a noble husband, to take over this role for her. But they cannot circumvent their father's wishes. And when a new young glassblower arrives to help the family business and Maria finds herself drawn to him, the web of conflicting emotions grows even more tangled.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Starred Review, Booklist, April 15, 2012:
“In a landscape, time, and plot rich with descriptive opportunity, Hemphill’s verse selects and illuminates the best bits, intensifying them like light through glass.”

VOYA - Paula Willey
Maria and Giovanna live in a world of high craft and hard work, the daughters of a glassblowing family on the island of Murano, Italy, in the fifteenth century. Just across the water is glittering Venice, from whence rich noblemen come to negotiate for the hand (and dowry) of Maria. Unfortunately, Maria, a talented artist, would rather work with her brothers and the new glassblower Luca, mixing the raw stone and metals that make glass. It is her older sister, Giovanna, with her golden curls and beautiful singing voice, who yearns for the cultured life of a Venetian lady. This verse novel is decorated with the sparkling imagery of glassblowing as it describes Maria's sorrows and frustrations, first with her envious sister and oblivious mother, then with the challenging Luca and her eventual betrothed, Andrea. The story's somewhat predictable ending recalls a Shakespearean comedy in its simplistic, noblesse-oblige resolution to the family's romantic and financial troubles. Readers who enjoy romantic melodrama in a picturesque historical setting will be charmed by this short novel. Readers who rebel against convenient romantic coincidences will not. Reviewer: Paula Willey
School Library Journal
Gr 7–10—In 15th-century Italy, girls have few options beyond following the path laid out for them by society and their families. As Maria, the younger daughter of a Murano glassblowing family, inches closer to marrying age, 15, she begins to realize the implications of her father's dying wish that she, and not her sister, Giovanna, should marry a nobleman. Maria feels ill-suited to such a life, and beautiful, refined Giovanna would gladly fill her shoes. When Luca, a young glassblower, is hired to help ease the family's workload, Maria finds her attention wandering his way, and her plight grows more desperate, and she must determine whether she can control her own destiny. The tale's verse format makes for a quick read, in many ways a plus, though there are some parts of the plot that lack dramatic tension, such as the relationship between Maria and Luca. Further, while beautifully written, the free verse doesn't showcase Hemphill's stylistic capabilities, as did Your Own, Sylvia (Knopf, 2007). Still, fans of historical romance fiction, especially those who enjoyed Mary Jane Beaufrand's Primavera (Little Brown, 2008), will welcome this tale and its happy ending.—Jill Heritage Maza, Montclair Kimberley Academy, Montclair, NJ
Kirkus Reviews
Love and conventional roles for women collide in this page-ripping tale from 15th-century Venice. The gifted Printz Honor–winning poet (Your Own, Sylvia, 2007, etc.) turns to Renaissance Italy to probe timeless questions of class, gender roles and family ties. Setting her story on the tiny island of Murano in the late 1400s, Hemphill shines a light on the world of glassmaking as crafted by the well-established Barovier family. The tale's tension centers around Maria's promise to honor her dying father's wish that she marry into Venetian nobility. This responsibility should have fallen to her older sister, Giovanna, whose beauty, charm and upbringing have primed her to become a noblewoman her entire life. At age 15, Maria feels the expanse of her world beginning to shrink as her mother starts preparing her "to be bartered away." She finds that "learning to be a lady / is like learning / to live within a shell." Maria's misery only increases when an alluring glassblower arrives on the scene, making her long even more to be allowed to preserve the family's social station by exercising her talents as a glassmaker. Hemphill's deft sense of line, engaging language and fast-paced plot combine smoothly as molten glass in this intricate family drama, in which modern self-determination eventually trumps tradition. A fiery, feminist love story young teens, particularly girls, should just devour. (Verse novel. 11 & up)

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range:
12 Years

Meet the Author

STEPHANIE HEMPHILL is the author of the Printz Honor-winning Your Own, Sylvia, a verse portrait of Sylvia Plath, as well as Things Left Unsaid and the critically acclaimed Wicked Girls, which received four starred reviews.

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Sisters of Glass 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
DaniC More than 1 year ago
Sisters of the Glass is a quick and unusual read. It is historical fiction story written in verse. I couldn’t wait to start it because it sounded different from what I usually read. I was a bit disappointed in it. The way it was written, in verse, made it difficult for me to get into the story line. If it had been written like a normal novel I think I would have enjoyed it so much more. Unfortunately by the time I was done reading it I had a bit of a headache.
iheartyabooks More than 1 year ago
Sisters of Glass is a Historical Fiction that is written in verse. This was a different kind of read for me, but it was definitely a wonderful surprise and a very cute love story about two sisters. The two sister's story is told through Maria, who is the younger daughter. It's the year 1291 on the island of Murano where all glassmakers have been sent to live by the order of Venetian government. Maria and her older sister, Giovanna (Vanna), live in a time where fathers choose who their daughters marry, and who their daughters love isn't taken into account. But before Marie's father dies, he breaks tradition and gives Marie the oldest daughters right's to be the first one to marry, and to marry a Nobleman. Both sisters are not happy with their dying father’s decision to change their rights, and when Marie falls in love with Luca, who has been given a partnership in the family's glassmaking business, her relationship with her sister becomes strained. Giovanna is the one who is supposed to marry Luca, but she's in love with the nobleman Andrea who is betrothed to Maria. This is where the fun begins with these two sisters, because Marie's betrothed is in love with Giovanna. And Luca, who is Giovanna's betrothed, is in love with Marie. This novel, like I said, was a different kind of read for me, but I fell in love with Stephanie Hemphill’s beautiful writing and the verse style. I also fell in love with these two sisters and their right to choose the person who they wanted to marry and the right to marry for love and happiness. Sisters of Glass is 272 pages, but with it written in verses, it’s a fast read, but don't let that fool you. It’s a strong and in-depth story with humor, drama, jealousies and romance, and a beautiful storyline with Marie and Giovanna’s happily ever after. I recommend Sisters of Glass as a beautiful, cute read.