Friday, January 22, 2016

The Borden Murders ~ Sarah Miller (earc) review [@SMillerBooks @schwartzwade]

The Borden Murders: Lizzie Borden and the Trial of the Century
Schwartz & Wade
January 12, 2016
304 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

Here’s middle-grade nonfiction that reads like a thriller. With murder, court battles, and sensational newspaper headlines, the story of Lizzie Borden is compulsively readable and perfect for the Common Core.

Lizzie Borden took an axe, gave her mother forty whacks. When she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one.

In a compelling, linear narrative, Miller takes readers along as she investigates a brutal crime: the August 4, 1892, murders of wealthy and prominent Andrew and Abby Borden. The accused? Mild-mannered and highly respected Lizzie Borden, daughter of Andrew and stepdaughter of Abby. Most of what is known about Lizzie’s arrest and subsequent trial (and acquittal) comes from sensationalized newspaper reports; as Miller sorts fact from fiction, and as a legal battle gets under way, a gripping portrait of a woman and a town emerges.

With inserts featuring period photos and newspaper clippings—and, yes, images from the murder scene—readers will devour this nonfiction book that reads like fiction.

Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done,
She gave her father forty-one

Nearly everyone - if not, in fact, everyone - has heard the rhyme about Lizzie Borden, but few actually know the facts of Lizzie Borden and her trial. In a very readable book, Sarah Miller gives us some of those facts.

The book begins with Lizzie's bloody discovery that August morning in 1892. It continues through the immediate investigation - and its shortcomings both by modern and historical standards - the suspicion cast on Lizzie, the trial and its aftermath.

Though this is a middle grade nonfiction title, it should appeal to both older readers and those who do not often read nonfiction. The Borden Murders really does read like fiction.

The examination of how different people acted and reacted around the murders and towards Lizzie Borden are interesting on their own, but the author does a great job providing context (historical or otherwise) so that you understand the full ramifications of things.

I was more impressed with what is included in the book and how easily it reads after reading the 'Notes' section at the end of the book and seeing that the dialogue in the book was taken (nearly always, if not always) directly from quotes in articles, transcripts, etc. It lends an extra air of authenticity to the title while all of that dialogue really does make for a lively, engrossing story. It is a great way of getting readers the facts while connecting them with the characters and story at the same time.

Author Sarah Miller does a fantastic job presenting readers with the facts of the murders of Andrew and Abby Borden and the trial, for those murders, of Lizzie Borden. It is a compelling read that will certainly make you think about some things.

received, for review, from publisher, via NetGalley

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