A Buss from Lafayette
Sometimes a little kiss can change everything, especially when it is from a world famous hero of the American Revolution!
Clara Hargraves, 14, has a couple of big problems: she has a new stepmother Priscilla, (who used to be her old maid schoolteacher aunt) and she has red hair (which means she is constantly teased). During the last week of June, 1825, her small New Hampshire town is abuzz about the Revolutionary War hero Lafayette's visit to the state. As a result, Clara just might find that her problems are not quite so terrible after all.
Awards & Honors
A Buss from Lafayette transports modern readers to Hopkinton, N. H., in June of 1825. Fourteen-year-old Clara, the main character, carries the novel with the strength of her personality, humorous observations, and seemingly timeless adolescent woes. . .Woven into the story is a variety of the material and lived culture of the period, especially food, dress, and societal expectations for girls and women. . .will entertain readers as yioung a fourth grade while older students will appreciate a teenager's perspective." - Hayley Durfor, Kid Stuff Magazine
Clara Hargraves is a clever and spirited young girl with red hair to match her fiery personality. She has just turned fourteen years old and her step-mother expects her to start behaving like a proper young lady. This is quite vexing for Clara as she loves to swim in the pond near her home; and, in her estimation, riding side-saddle is entirely ridiculous. It doesn't help that Clara resents her step-mother (her mother's sister), for trying to take on the role her mom once had. To make matters worse her step-mother is now with child.
For weeks now, it seems all anyone can speak of in her small New Hampshire town is Lafayette, a French aristocrat who relinquished his title and became the nation's darling as he aided America during its struggle for independence. Lafayette has become such an iconic figure of the day that his likeness adorns ladies' gloves, fans and more. So when it's rumored that Lafayette might be passing through, her town is abuzz. Clara enjoys hearing about Lafayette and the many reasons for which he has become a hero to her country, but more importantly she dreams of changing her unseemly red hair to a lovely shade of black.
A Buss from Lafayette, by Dorothea Jensen, is a fun and fascinating read. Jensen weaves threads of historical fact within this coming-of-age story that will resonate with young audiences on many levels. Readers will love the tale of the highly relatable Clara and may even learn a thing or two about why Lafayette was so highly esteemed in American in the 1800s. This book is recommended for home and school libraries and has earned the Literary Classics Seal of Approval. - Children's Literary Classics
Fifty years after American independence, General Lafayette is visiting all 24 of the new nation's states and everyone is eager to catch a glimpse of the honored guest, even 14-year old Clara Hargaves. Jensen effortlessly weaves history together with the daily trials of a girl resenting her stepmother’s reminders to behave like a lady. Most schoolchildren know Lafayette’s role in the Revolutionary War only superficially, and Jensen makes him come alive in a way they will remember. Historical accuracy, character development, and engaging dialogue enliven this narrative and make it an enjoyable read. Overall Score: 8.50 out of 10. - Booklife Prize in Fiction
A Timely and Wonderfully Appealing Historical Novel
With the current remarkable interest in the American Revolution due to the musical Hamilton, this delightful and poignant book of historical fiction comes along at just the right time to catch the wave, with a focus this time on Lafayette and his many vital contributions to the revolution. The frame of the story is set many years later, when Lafayette made his farewell tour of the United States as the revered and acclaimed Nation’s Guest. In many ways the book is a wonderful paean to Lafayette, whose influence on our history has been forgotten by so many. But the book is also the story of fourteen-year-old Clara, a thoroughly engaging young heroine full of tremendous energy and agency. She captivates, charms, and ultimately steals the heart of the reader, young or old.
The book is beautifully--often eloquently--written; the narrative seamlessly blends history and fiction, each enriching the other with emotional and psychological authenticity and meticulous historical detail. The story is filled with timeless and timely gender issues, so vitally relevant to young girls and women today. I loved the historical richness of the novel—its beautiful attention to both minute details of everyday life in 1825 New Hampshire and to the sweep of events in American history. This is wonderful storytelling.
Through her journal entries and first person narrative, we see clearly into Clara’s heart and mind as she comes of age. We are moved as we witness her journey to discover and understand her own prejudice and assumptions about people very close to her, especially her stepmother, and how she must be open and learn certain truths about others and herself in order to find love, friendship, and intimacy. 5 Stars -Midwest Reader, Amazon.com
A Splendidly Told Tale
A Buss from Lafayette is an exquisitely detailed and beautifully penned historical fiction novel that chronicles a week’s worth of events that ultimately transform a girl into a budding young woman.
It’s the summer of 1825 and General Lafayette is on a farewell tour as the Nation’s Guest. People are lining up in the big cities just to catch a glimpse of this remarkable man who helped secure America’s freedom from the British.
At the same time, in the small town of Hopkinton, a girl named Clara Hargraves is celebrating her fourteenth birthday. However, Clara’s celebrating is cut short when she’s informed by her stepmother, who was/is also her aunt, that she is now a young woman and must start behaving as one. No more riding astride, no more wearing her brother’s breeches, and certainly no more swimming in the pond. Clara’s not sure what’s worse, her red hair or her stepmother who seems to be trying to ruin her life. On top of all this she’s been getting a funny feeling every time she’s around her brother’s friend, and her previous tormentor, Dickon Weeks and she’s just discovered her hideous cousin Hetty is coming for a visit. Could things get any worse? Clara’s about to find out and what unfolds just may change her life.
I am a big fan of historical fiction and was thrilled at the opportunity of reviewing A Buss from Lafayette and I must say the author does not disappoint. The rich detail and vivid storytelling make it easy to fall into this story. I felt as though I was transported back in time to experience life with Clara and could feel the excitement in the air as the town was a buzz with the talk of Lafayette.
The author also makes her characters easy to relate to which gives the story a sense of timelessness. It’s easy to understand Clara’s emotional struggles of accepting her stepmother, her nervousness around a certain young man, and her desire to fit in when all her red hair does is stand out. Readers will also be able to identify with the stepmother who wants to be loved and welcomed by her stepchildren, but is also dealing with the pain of losing her sister.
I think one of my favorite aspects of the story is how the author is able to weave a history lesson throughout the daily lives of her characters. Sitting around the dinner table, visiting in town, or chatting after church seem so natural that it’s easy to become engrossed in the story and forget you’re learning.
Kudos to Dorothea Jensen for a splendidly told tale. I highly recommend picking up a copy. 5.0 out of 5 stars –Stacie, Goodreads Review
A Wonderful Coming of Age Story that Also Happens to Have Great Historical Value!
I drank this novel like water, and loved the depth in all the characters as well as the historical detail. I got emotionally invested in Clara and her problems, which made the book about her, with the historical aspect of the novel more as a frame of reference than an end. Also, the love story and all the changes that the lead character is going through internally (a girl turning into a woman) made it very relatable. The romantic aspect of the story will be a big plus for young teen girls who are going through the same hormonal soup, as an extra layer to this novel. The prose of Ms. Jensen is vivid and very rich, making it easy to recreate the whole period of time in my mind. This is a great way to get younger tweens and early teens to LIVE the history of the American Revolution, instead of just learning the facts about it. I recommend this novel wholeheartedly to anyone who loves historical novels.5 Stars - mamitales.com
Brings History to Life
"Dorothea Jensen brings history to life in this vibrant coming-of-age story about a young girl, Clara Hargraves, who is living in the time of the 50th anniversary of the American Revolution and General Lafayette's farewell tour. What is history for us was current events for the people of that time and Jensen skillfully tells it like that. She describes hammering chips off a pound-sized block of sugar and making strawberry jam with ready-made syrup from the West Indies. Much of the history is learned through conversations that flow naturally. The characters are engaging and I enjoyed the sibling rivalry between clever Clara and her competent brother, Joss. There's also a bit of young love by a certain admirer amidst all of the shenanigans.
I highly recommend this historical novel for all middle grade and young adult readers."
- Christina Morley, Amanda's Books and More Blog
Life Not Always Being What It Seems
"In this coming [of] age novel, Clara Hargraves must come to terms with a step mother she feels is trying to take her dead mother’s place, her flaming red hair that draws attention and teasing, and just being a 14 year old girl.
The book takes place in 1825 and as the title suggests, central to the story is the tour of The States by revolutionary War Hero, General Lafayette. While Clara navigates the inevitable and timeless pitfalls of being a 14 year old, the world around her is a buzz with Lafayette’s tour stops. It seems that where ever she goes the adults are discussing him and his contribution to the Revolutionary War. Against that canvas Clara gets to learn a few things about life not always being what it seems. Maybe her Evil Stepmother/Aunt isn’t the villain Clara would like to believe. Maybe her hateful “perfect’ cousin isn’t so perfect after all. And that boy who has been teasing her mercilessly for years, well just maybe he isn’t so bad either. An unexpected meeting will change her perspective on herself and her family.
Middle grade girls will immediately identify and relate with Clara. Despite the historical time gap, Clara’s life isn’t so different from theirs; Chores, boys, growing womanhood and greater responsibilities. Meanwhile, without even realizing it they will pick up an excellent education on the primary figures of the American Revolution, as well what life was like for kids their age in the early 1800’s. For that reason, I believe in a classroom setting this book would also appeal to middle grade boys." - I Read What You Write Blog
A True Act of Character
"Over the course of the book, more aspects of Priscilla are revealed. Indeed, she doesn’t seem like such the wicked stepmother Clara believes her to be, and eventually Clara must confront her very own notions. She looks at things as they really are, instead of how she perceives them. This helps her get past her grief and accept her new family the way it is. To go from such strong resentment to acceptance and kindness at the end takes a true act of character, and it leads up to what happens at the end of the book.. . .This was a historical book heavily founded on the American Revolution, and certain key players in it. What I liked most was how Clara seemed to resolve her issues with Priscilla, Hetty, and Dickon in such realistic ways. Clara is a bit of an introvert, and it takes her a while to figure things out and the best way to approach them, but she does, and things end up slowly falling into place." - girl of 1000 wonders blog
Read it...You'll be glad you did.
"As a fan of The Riddle of Penncroft Farm, I was hoping A Buss From Lafayette would be as good, and it is! The characters really came to life for me and the story moved along at a good pace. The heroine, Clara, has some of the same issues as girls of today, even though she’s living almost 200 years ago! Historical fiction fans will enjoy this book, especially as it was based upon a real historical event, General Lafayette’s visit to New Hampshire. I found the glossary helpful and informative. Read it...You'll be glad you did." Rating: really liked it - Readnride, Goodreads Review
A Completely Wholesome Story
"The author cleverly weaves the historical information into the story so that you learn about Lafayette as Clara does. And then you get the story about Clara dealing with a step-mother, being called carroty top for her red hair, and her brother's teasing friend, or is he maybe flirting???? (Don't worry, this does not need a PG designation; it's a completely wholesome story.) Lots of plot lines in this and all resolved in a believable way." 5 Stars Sara, Goodreads Reviewer
Clara Hargraves is the heroine of [book:A Buss from Lafayette|28166545]. She is a young teenager living in New England, and the book is related from her point of view. She is dealing with a new step-mother (her deceased mother's older sister) a spiteful cousin, a clueless brother, and all the intensity of being required to act more like a young lady than like a child. Add to that the visit of a nationally adored hero, the Marquis de Lafayette, and the result is a sometimes overly sweet narrative.
Clara is quite charming, and this is overall a lovely book. As a longtime fangirl of the Marquis de Lafayette, I really appreciate the loving and respectful way that he and his legacy are portrayed. A very worthwhile read. 5 Stars - Critter Bee via NetGalley.com
A Fabulous Book!
"This book is one of my new favorites. It has a believable storyline. It is set on Gould Hill road in Hopkinton, New Hampshire and is based on a real event that happened in June 1825. The storyline moved along at a good pace and was always interesting. It has a taste of romance and lots of bravery. I couldn’t put it down! It was educational too! This book is a Historical Fiction Novel and has many facts about Lafayette and his great deeds helping the Americans win the war against the British. It taught me a lot about American independence and clearly showed me what life was like in the 19th century. I would highly recommend this book to girls who are 9 and up. This was a fabulous book and I definitely will reread it!" - An 11-year old New Hampshire girl
"Dorothea Jensen has written a warm, funny, coming-of-age novel about a 19th century teenage girl who lives on a farm in Hopkinton, New Hampshire. Set in June 1825 as the Town and its inhabitants prepare for General Lafayette’s Farewell Tour visit, the story begins on June 21 and ends 6 days later, the day that Lafayette pays Hopkinton (and Clara) a call. A lot happens in that fateful week; and we see Clara morph from a precocious, rambunctious, somewhat petulant 14-year old into a wiser, more mature young adult.
Jensen sketches her characters with short but believable strokes. Clara, her aunt/stepmother, Priscilla, her brother, Joss, the boy Dickon and her cousin, Hetty, are vividly and sympathetically portrayed. Lafayette is, well, Lafayette, charming and oh so French. Jensen also paints what appears to be an authentic portrait of life in 1825 New Hampshire as well as the Nation’s response to Lafayette’s final visit to his adoptive land.
The story has a number of twists and turns, but the plot is resolved in a satisfying, wholly heart-warming dénouement. Though A Buss From Lafayette is billed as a young adult novel, it is truly a tale for adults of all ages." - Alan R. Hoffman, President, American Friends of Lafayette; President, Massachusetts Lafayette Society; translator, Lafayette in America in 1824 and 1825 by Auguste Levasseur.