The Education of Bet by Lauren Baratz-Logsted
Bet is sixteen, very intelligent, but only knows as much as her limited education will allow. In Victorian England, girls aren't allowed to go to school.Will is also 16, and though not related by blood, he and Bet act like brother and sister. In fact, they even look like brother and sister. And though they're both raised under the same roof, by the same kind uncle, Will has one big advantage over Bet: He's a boy, and being a boy means he isn't stuck in the grand house they call home. He gets to go out into the world--to school.
But that's not what Will wishes. He wants to join the military and learn about real life, not what's written in books.
So one night, Bet comes up with a plan. She'll go to school as Will. Will can join the military. And though it seems impossible, they actually manage to pull it off.
But once Bet gets to the school, she begins to realize the education she's going to get isn't exactly the one she was expecting.
Historical fiction is one of my absolute favorite genres. I love the names, the clothes, the facts, the settings.. everything is so interesting and different. The Education of Bet not only introduced readers to these things in Victorian England, but also let them really feel what it was like to be a girl in this time.
Bet was an inspiring and strong willed character. She knew what she wanted- an education- and would do anything to get it. Many students today take education for granted and wish they didn't even have to go. Bet made me feel that much more grateful that, in today's society, girls have the opportunity to get an education. Not only was Bet brave, she was also a sweet and caring person. Her love for her Uncle and friends shown from the pages and she just wanted the best for everyone. The other characters; Will, James, Uncle, Little... they all seemed so believable and real.
The plot was fantastic and so original. In the spirit of Mulan, The Education of Bet proved just how far some girls will go to have the opportunities men did. Bet lived with her Uncle and "brother in spirit" Will, and when Will expressed interest in joining the military, Bet cooked up her scheme to switch places with him. Disguising herself as Will, Bet enrolled in a new school and told her Uncle she was off to work for a new family. The majority of the novel took place with Bet disguised as a boy and I loved every minute of it. Her trials and triumphs were funny and, at times, difficult, and I really felt for her. There are a lot of twists in the plot and a few surprises along the way that keep the reader engaged and entertained.
Even though Bet is disguised as a male for the majority of the novel, she still manages to find romance by the end. The guy she falls for is sweet, brave, and a likable character. He is so protective of Bet and I love the ending!
Overall, The Education of Bet was a romantic, exciting, and well written novel that left me eager to read more of Lauren Baratz-Logsted's work. This was a short read, but is filled with a great story.
Overall: 4.5 out of 5 stars
July 12, 2010/Houghton Mifflin Books for Children/192 Pages/Young Adult
Source: Publisher (ARC)
Other books by this author: The Twin's Daughter, Crazy Beautiful