[REVIEW] Chronicles from Chateau Moines

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Series: N/A
 Evelyne Holingue
 middle grade, historical fiction
 October 11, 2014
 Burel Press

September 1970: Scott’s mother has recently died and his father gets the crazy idea to move his family from California to Normandy. Now Scott has to learn to live without his mom while adjusting to France. In his seventh grade class there is only Ibrahim who comes from another country. Scott doesn’t even want to play his guitar anymore. Why does his father think that life will be better so far from home? Scott has no idea that his arrival is also a challenge to Sylvie. While her best friend is excited to have an American boy at school, Sylvie cannot say one word to Scott. She can’t even write good songs in her notebook anymore. Why is life so different since Scott moved to Château Moines?  
Set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War protest era and told from the perspectives of twelve-year old Scott and Sylvie, this is a story about loss and friendship, music and peace, and also about secrets.

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"People are much more than what they seem," Ibrahim goes on.
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Chronicles of Chateau Moines is one of those books I didn't expect myself to really fall in love with. It's a coming of age, historical fiction about an American boy and a French girl set in a small village in 1970 France.

It's told in two POVs. One of which is Scott, the American boy, who tries to adjust to French culture, makes friends, plays music, and tries to stand up for his beliefs. Then there's Sylvie, the French girl, who found herself falling out with her best friend, and keeps her beautiful lyrics for herself because of fear. Reading Chronicles of Chateau Moines in their alternating POVs feels really good. It allowed me to get two really different views. They see things differently. I get to walk Chateau Moines in two different point of views.

I'm boiling inside, and I can't hold the lid on my angry pot anymore. "How can you eat dessert, even think of dessert, when people are dying in Vietnam?"

This books simply allowed me to feel  like 12 all over again. These two walk as if they're carrying the world on their shoulders. I love how they make a huge deal about things. When you're 12, you just get this feeling that you have to do a lot of things.

Another thing I love in here is how Scott and Sylvie are like polar opposites. Scott's a kid who's not afraid to express his beliefs while Sylvie, on the other hand, is a kid who's afraid of the world - afraid of being rejected, afraid of expressing herself to others. Their difference simply made Chateau Moines a more engaging and enjoyable read. I also love the gradual development on these two. The people around them just made their development smooth and this book really an enjoyable read.

Aside from the beautiful characters, being a historical fiction, Chronicles of Chateau Moines successfully brough me to 1970s France. Holingue's words allowed me to see the place, the situation. The things I learned in here are definitely one of those historical bits I won't forget in the long run. There're also bits of French around the book. In beginning, I get a bit confused but as I read more of the book, I get to really feel the story and the setting. They were explained well and really adds up to the good experience of being in Chateau Moines.

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What I Like: (1) the historical setting, (2) the characters - their POVs, the way they express themselves, (3) the slowly but surely development on the characters, (4) the secondary characters, (5) the writing

What I Didn’t Like: (1) the slow pacing - it's not exactly a bad thing, the pacing is very appropriate for the story but it's not really me to read slow books.

I was born and raised in Normandy, France, where I spent most of my childhood reading.
My first published piece of writing was a poem about a man spending Christmas behind bars. I was eleven years old and wasn’t paid for my work, but I was hooked.
I studied French Literature at the Université de Caen and at the Sorbonne in Paris and worked in a publishing house before moving to California, following my husband.
It was a challenging time in my life as I was leaving my own career, my family, my friends and my beloved Paris behind.  But how could I say no to the dreams of the man I love?
Readers enjoy escaping the familiar for the unknown.  Being a foreigner is discovering the unknown day after day, not only for the time of a book. However, since most things in life come with a silver lining, I credit this move for giving me the opportunity to write. Through my words, I share my affection for my native and adoptive countries that I love equally.

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