Thursday, June 10, 2010
Character Connection: Jacky Faber (Bloody Jack Adventures by L. A. Meyer)
I decided to take advantage of The Introverted Reader's weekly character connection to blog about one of my favorite characters from recent historical fiction for young readers: Jacky Faber, the heroine of L. A. Meyer's Bloody Jack Adventures. Book 8 of this series, The Wake of the Lorelei Lee, will be released this fall. While these books are designed for young adults, they are equally entertaining for adult fans of historical fiction, as well as those who love a good adventure story with lots of bawdy humor! (but not too bawdy, this is YA after all)
It's so hard to sum up Jacky's incredibly colorful personality. In the course of the series, she transforms from a street urchin into a ship's boy in His Majesty's Navy, becomes an infamous pirate, a student at a prim New England girl's school, a tavern entertainer, a naval officer, a riverboat captain, master of disguise, a spy in Napoleon's army, a deep sea diver, and more. All the while she tries so hard to be "a good girl," saving herself for her true love, Jamie, while being tempted by many other handsome fellows along the way. Jacky just doesn't fit into the neat mold of what well-behaved girls were supposed to act like in the early 19th century--she's just got too much spunk and spirit! Her adventures are funny, suspenseful, romantic, and even will teach readers a lot about life in that era.
On his website, Meyer writes that Jacky's stories were inspired by old sea shanty's about young girls who dressed up as boys to follow their boyfriends to sea. But, he thought, what if "the girl, instead of seeking to be with her lover, connives to get on board a British warship in order to just eat regularly and have a place to stay, her being a starving orphan on the streets of early 1800's London. What would she have to do to pull off this deception for a long period of time? What if she goes through the changes of adolescence while on board in the company of 408 rather rough men and boys, and her not having much of a clue as to what is happening to her? What if this ship goes into combat and she has to do her dangerous duty? And, finally, what if she falls in love with one off the boys and can never tell him of her female nature?"
I first discovered this series on audiobook, and they are a treasure! Narrated by Katherine Kellgreen, the audiobooks of these novels have received numerous awards, and Kellgreen's ability to do a wide variety of convincing accents and voices rivals Jim Dale (narrator of the Harry Potter audiobooks). In these books, she has to sound like everything from prim schoolgirls to British officers to drunken sailors, and she brings Jacky Faber--our intrepid heroine--to life in an unforgettable manner. If you have access to the audiobooks--and they should be available at your local public library--that's the way to start out with this series. Kellgreen's fabulous narration brings the characters alive and makes the audiobooks even more fun than reading the novels!
Paperback editions of Jacky's stories were re-issued a few years back with sexy-looking new covers, which are likely to appeal much more to today's teen readers than the older, more traditional-looking cover art.