The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry
My Thoughts: 4/5 Stars
It’s the early 13th century in the small town of Provensa (modern day Provence, France) and Dolssa, a young, Christian girl is condemned as a heretic by the Catholic Church for preaching about her relationship with her “beloved” (Jesus Christ). Friar Lucien de Saint-Honore is determined to burn Dolssa at the stake to halt the spread of heresy.
Botille, a spunky matchmaker, and her two sisters offer Dolssa a home and aid after finding her near-death and experiencing her unexplainable healing powers. The Catholic Church’s relentless search for Dolssa puts the girls–and the entire town–at the mercy of deeply offended and dangerous religious leaders.
If it were not for bits of mysticism, this meticulously researched story would read as narrative nonfiction. The history of the Crusades, religious fanaticism, and day-to-day life in the 13th century is extremely well-done.
The strong cast of female characters, particularly during a time in history when women had no power, is particularly wonderful. Botille is a delightfully strong, smart, and hilarious character who hooks readers from the first meeting. Dolssa stands firm against powerful men in her conviction her relationship with her beloved is true and unwavering. Botille’s two sisters help her run a tavern without assistance from husbands, brothers, or fathers.
Marketed as young adult fiction, the character and history-driven structure may alienate some teenage readers.
It’s not hard to understand why this book earned the Printz honor award. A gripping, emotional title with characters you will feel and history that will entrance you.
- Historical fiction
- Medieval history
- Religious history
- Mature young adult readers and adult readers
- Readers who enjoy character-driven novels
- Readers who enjoy historical fiction
- Award-winner readers