Historical Fiction (USA, 1840s)
Midwest Book Review
"Olivia, Mourning is historical fiction at its best ... Expect no easy conclusions to Book 1: it's all about transition points and leaves the door open for further journeys with Olivia. Readers interested in historical fiction with a healthy dose of romance will find Olivia, Mourning a compelling, gripping saga that deliciously wraps what could be predictable elements in a cloak of many choices. It's all about options and consequences - and is a heartfelt story especially recommended for readers who enjoy headstrong protagonists tasked with making their own way in the world."
Read the entire review at the author's blog:
Olivia wants the 80 acres in far off Michigan that her father left to whichever of his offspring wants to stake a claim. As Olivia says, "I'm sprung off him just as much as Avis or Tobey."
The problem: she's seventeen, female, and it's 1841.
Mourning Free knows how to run a farm and Olivia has complete trust in him.
The problem: he's Black, the orphaned son of runaway slaves, and reluctant to travel and work with a white girl. He especially fears the slave catchers who patrol the free states, hunting fugitive slaves.
Not without qualms, they set off together. All goes well, despite the drudgery of survival in an isolated log cabin. Incapable of acknowledging her feelings for Mourning, Olivia thinks her biggest problem is her unrequited romantic interest in their young, single neighbor.
Then her world falls apart.
Strong-willed, vulnerable, and compassionate, Olivia is a compelling protagonist on a journey to find a way to do the right thing in a world in which so much is wrong.
About the Author
Yael Politis grew up in Dearborn, Michigan, not far from Olivia's farm. She spent years researching the backdrop for Olivia's story, enjoying the challenge of recreating daily life in another time and place. She based many of the details (including how Mourning got his name) on letters and journals passed down through her family, over seven generations of lives lived in the American Midwest. She received a great deal of insight from her sister Martha, who lived in a modern log home, hunted her own land, and was as independent and stubborn as Olivia.
Since 1973 she has lived in Israel, where she has worked as an agricultural laborer, secretary, librarian, Administrative Systems Analyst, Hebrew-English translator, editor, English teacher, technical writer, and proposal writer.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Book 1 was wonderful, but ended in a way that gave no answers. A waste of time. Also Book 2 of the series is not available on Nook? Only the first 1. A competitor sells it for 15.99. Did they ever find Mourning? Who's baby was it? Annoying
Olivia seems to expect an easier life than the world has to offer as Yael Politis’ novel, Olivia, Mourning, begins. She’s mourned her mother since early childhood. Now she mourns the loss of her own childhood. And soon the father she’s caring for might pass, leaving her to mourn him as well. But there are many different kinds of mourning in this novel, not least being a wonderful black child called Mourning who grew up in the same town as Olivia. Soon the naïve white girl is inviting her one-time friend to take risks well beyond his station, and a smoothly convincing depiction of guilt and innocence, slavery, freedom, and the abuse of freedoms ensues. I enjoyed the well-researched details of this tale, from steam-boat segregation to farming implements and the way to roof a home. Naïve young girl grows convincingly to the cusp of bravery, and the reader is left to deduce true emotions through the guise of her powerfully mixed independence and need. The story builds with the farm, until sudden disaster changes everything. Not for the overly squeamish or easily offended, this tale offers a thoroughly honest depiction of genuine darkness beneath supposed godliness, and invites the reader to see more than one kind of prison, just as the story depicted than one kind of mourning. But redemption, as complicated as pain, is always possible. While this tale ends with so much more to be told, it does give a sense of completion, holding its secrets and leaving the reader to either collect the series or choose their own best image to finish it all. Whichever you choose, Olivia, Mourning, is a complex, convincing and convicting tale; highly recommended. Disclosure: I was given a free ecopy and I offer my honest review. In the interests of honesty, I should admit there was one word used that threw me, feeling too modern, but how can I complain after reading such a beautiful and truly convincing book.
Olivia, Mourning is an epic story of a young woman's desire for independence in frontier Ameria. When Olivia Killion's father dies, she suddenly must face her future. Her eldest brother has inherited the family store and house. Olivia fears that when he marries, she will be a burden. She learns about some land in rural Michigan that her father owns. Of his children, whoever chooses to work the land and make a success of it for one year, can inherit it. With the help of an young black man named Mourning, she secretly departs for the farmland in the hopes that together, they will succeed and earn their own fortunes. But life on the farm is not easy. The living conditions are rugged and primitive. And the neighbours are not all they seem. Soon, Olivia finds herself kidnapped and taken advantage of by her neighours, with Mourning no where to be found. Olivia, Mourning is a novel reminiscent of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her Little House on the Prairie series. The description of daily life and all the necessary items and tasks for survival are brilliantly described. While reading this novel, I felt as if I were watching it on the screen, so vivid were the details. I was interested from the first page. It wasn't until the halfway mark that the novel really takes off with a horrible situation Olivia faces with her neighbours. I found myself eagerly flipping the pages and completely and utterly immersed in this story. But be prepared - the book ends with a real big hook that will send you to Amazon to purchase the sequel, The Way The World Is. I strongly recommend this novel as beautifully written, compelling, unputdownable, and unforgettable.
I recieved this book in exchange for a fair and honest review This is a wonderful historical novel about a boy named Mourning, born black and a girl named Olivia, born white who are both living in pennsylvania circa 1841. Olivia's father dies and he leaves everything to her brothers, nothing to her but, there are 80 acres of unwanted, scruffy and unfarmable farm land west in Michigan. 17 year old Olivia determined to make it on her own, enlists the help of her good friend Mourning and together they set off west to conquer the land and maybe some stereotypes along the way. Needless to say in the 1840's in America there are many obsticals in the way, slavery, racism and womenism to name just a few! Things take a turn for the worse when they arrive in Michigan and the town folk are not happy with a white woman and her colored hired hand are the only two on the farm. Sinister things are brewing not the least of which is Olivia's "monthlies" are late. I was a little dissapointed in the ending, wondering... who's is it anyway?
5 1/2 stars!!! Did I enjoy this book: I loved it. Go ahead and write down this author’s name now because she’s going to be one of your favorite writers as soon as you read this book. Politis has that rare ability to completely suck you into the story and forget everything that’s going on around you. I would close the book and it would take my brain a fraction of a second to remember that I’m not on a farm in Michigan with these characters. I’m just sitting in my family room. And how long has it been? There’s no way I’ve been reading that long. OMG, my kid just missed the bus!!?? Again???!! I swear if I don’t get some trashier literature that school’s going to report me to child protective services. But all kidding aside. This book. This author. Phenomenal. Would I recommend it: Yes. Will I read it again: I understand there’s a sequel, The Way the World Is. I’ll probably be too busy reading that to reread this one. As reviewed by Belinda at Every Free Chance Book Reviews. (I received a copy of this book for review purposes.)