The List by Patricia Forde

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From the Publisher: “Fahrenheit 451 meets The Giver for tweens in this gripping story about the power of words and the dangers of censorship.

“In the city of Ark, speech is constrained to five hundred sanctioned words. Speak outside the approved lexicon and face banishment. The exceptions are the Wordsmith and his apprentice Letta, the keepers and archivists of all language in their post-apocalyptic, neo-medieval world.

“On the death of her master, Letta is suddenly promoted to Wordsmith, charged with collecting and saving words. But when she uncovers a sinister plan to suppress language and rob Ark’s citizens of their power of speech, she realizes that it’s up to her to save not only words, but culture itself.”

While The List by Patricia Forde is categorized as a middle grade dystopian novel, I found it to be so much more than that. It is a compelling statement on the power of words to condemn, to incite, to change, to hurt, to heal, to love. Words are one thing that make us human, but they can also be used in horribly inhuman ways. Words can create, and they can destroy. And, as this story points out, if you can control someone’s words, you can control them. When we are not allowed to speak out, we can’t speak up for ourselves. And if we can’t speak up for ourselves, who will?

This is a lesson that young people desperately need: it’s the old “give them an inch, they’ll take a mile” idea. When you give up a freedom (the freedom of speech, in this case), you give those in power permission to take more and more away from you (usually in the guise of protecting you from harm) until you have no freedom left. And this story highlights that idea in a way that young people can understand and maybe even empathize with in some ways. It would be a terrific story to use in a middle grade classroom. I can only imagine the discussions it could spark.

I did enjoy reading The List and would recommend it to tweens and teens, not for its dystopian elements (which were nothing super extraordinary, but were decently well written), but for the greater lessons to be gleaned from its words.

The List will be released in America in August 2017.

 

Many thanks to Sourcebook Jabberwocky and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂

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