First Read: 6th grade - Still have that edition. It is held together by a rubber band.
Robin McKinley’s book The Hero and the Crown has made me more friends in the real world and on social book websites than I can count. I owe one of my longest friendships to this book. It is a book that is currently being held together by a rubber band.
When I was in 6th grade, they had these things called Scholastic Book Clubs, where every couple of weeks or so, students could order books that would be shipped to the school. It was though one of these that I got my copy of Hero and the Crown. The basic plot is a young princess whose mother has a dubious past, and therefore, she is an outsider at the court. She isn’t the pretty noble whom everyone loves, though her father does love her; eventually, though hard work becomes a dragon killer.
She is in many ways St Georgina. She even has a white horse. His name is Talat.
It was the first novel I read, the first fantasy novel, where a woman takes on the “man’s” role. It was totally awesome. And in particular, it was one of the few adventure stories were a woman was front and center and not a boy/man. It was just so wonderful because it didn’t have the complicated issues that say Riders of Pern has when you get older (is it or is it not rape). The only objectionable, if objectionable is the right word, is when she sleeps with someone. But that happens off page, is not graphic, and was of her own choice and without pressure.
In some ways, McKinley foreshadows books such as the Hunger Games or Divergent with the emphasis on action more than romance, though McKinley, unlike HG, stays away from a love triangle. McKinley takes the outcast and doesn’t make her into a practically perfect individual, one that everyone loves though the outcast will constantly deny this. Aerin is truly an outcast, truly separate. And that is something that most books today do not use.
Aerin also allowed me to meet my oldest and dearest friend.