Review Detail

A Title for Every Middle Grades Classroom
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
THE UNEXPECTED LIFE OF OLIVER CROMWELL PITTS by Avi is a wonderful book--as one has come to expect from the author.

The year is 1724 and Oliver Cromwell Pitts, a twelve-year-old boy who looks far younger than his years, wakes up to find his home flooded and his father gone. Oliver’s attempts to find his father and sister in London lead him to be branded a thief and a highwayman, and his adventures along the way make THE UNEXPECTED LIFE a book that is nearly impossible to put down.

Avi’s latest is full of rich history and fascinating characters. The plot is perfectly arranged, the action is well paced, and the characters—both the evil and the good—are interesting and keep you rooting for them or against them.

This is a book that should be a part of every middle grade classroom. The vocabulary, wordplay, and history can be the basis for multiple lesson plans across many subjects, and I suspect every reader will identify with Oliver Cromwell Pitts and his plight at some point. The beauty of THE UNEXPECTED LIFE is Avi’s ability to write for the period in a way that is accessible and believable. Although the vocabulary might present a challenge to some students, it never seems overwhelming, and it’s a great introduction to classics that focus on that time.

Another wonderful aspect of Avi’s latest book is that it’s the first in the series. I became quite attached to Oliver Cromwell Pitts, and I look forward to spending more time with him in book two. However, I have to say that by the end of this book I identified strongly with Oliver’s assessment of his father: “It was hard to know if he was exhausted, appalled, or simply unwilling to acknowledge the world in which he found himself.” THE UNEXPECTED LIFE OF OLIVER PITTS isn’t a sunshiny book. There are (age appropriate) dark moments, and there are really awful people. Oliver’s approach to it all saves the book from complete darkness and despair. After all, a favorite saying of Oliver’s father’s is “"People care nothing for suffering. To get on, you must mask your heart with false smiles." And Oliver is a champion at that.

I highly recommend this book, and my thanks to the publisher and YA Books Central for an ARC of the book in exchange for my unbiased review.
Good Points
A book that can be the basis of many lesson plans

Great characters and a lot of action
Report this review Was this review helpful to you? 0 0

Comments

Already have an account? or Create an account
Powered by JReviews

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

My Funny Bunny
 
3.0
 
0.0 (0)
When a boy receives a gift box from his uncle...
Kindness Rules! (A Hello!Lucky Book)
 
4.5
 
0.0 (0)
Manners don’t come naturally to everyone! But did you know...
Teeny Tiny Ghost
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
An adorable spooky twist on "The Teeny Tiny Woman" that's...
A Pumpkin for Peter: A Peter Rabbit Tale
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Hop into the world of Peter Rabbit and his friends...
Solving for M
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Perfect for fans of Raymie Nightingale and The Fourteenth Goldfish,...
A Parade of Elephants
 
4.5
 
0.0 (0)
New York Times–bestselling and Caldecott Medalist Kevin Henkes follows five...
My Fate According To The Butterfly
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
When superstitious Sab sees a giant black butterfly, an omen...
The Rough Patch
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
A Caldecott Honor Book An...
Sunny's Tow Truck Saves the Day!
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
When a family car gets a flat on the way...
How to Be a Cat
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
In cut-paper artist Nikki McClure’s latest picture book, a kitten...
TBH, IDK What's Next (TBH, #4)
 
4.5
 
0.0 (0)
Three BFFs set out to have the BEST SUMMER EVER...
Finding Esme
 
3.3
 
0.0 (0)
Twelve-year-old Esme’s life changes when she discovers dinosaur bones on...
Five Little Pumpkins on Halloween Night
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Join these happy pumpkins in a cheerful rhyming countdown, in...
Wreck: A Novel
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
Set on the shores of Lake Superior, Wreck follows high...
The Madman of Piney Woods
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Benji and Red couldn't be more different. They aren't friends....
Wintercake
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
This cozy, gently humorous, and irresistible holiday tale from Newbery...

Latest Member Reviews

Until Next Time (The Angel Chronicles #1)
 
3.0
"Until Next Time was definitely NOT what I was expecting. My expectations having been completely off-base, I find myself of..."