Across the Great Divide
Scholastic Press, 2011
Eff is an unlucky thirteenth child – her twin brother, Lan, is a powerful seventh son of a seventh son. And yet, Eff is the one who saved the day for the settlements west of the Great Barrier. Her unique ways of doing magic and seeing the world, and her fascination with the magical creatures and land in the Great Plains push Eff to work toward joining an expedition heading west. But things are changing on the frontier. There are new professors of magic for Eff and Lan to learn to work with. There’s tension between William and his father. And there are new threats on the frontier and at home. To help, Eff must travel beyond the Barrier, and come to terms with her magical abilities—and those of her brother, to stop the newest threat encroaching on the settlers
I absolutely love this series. What I like about them especially is that they’re totally different from the standard young adult magic book. The winding narrative and voice of the heroine harkens strongly to a Mark Twain, fitting considering the time period the books are supposed to be set in. While the books are loosely connected to each other, each is really a separate story, and Eff is just a regular magician, not some child of promise upon whom the weight of the world stands. It’s refreshing to have a series of magic, fantasy stories that don’t work off of the same formulaic premise.
As to this addition to the series, if it’s possible, I actually like Across the Great Barrier better than the first, which is atypical to most fantasy series. I like that the story doesn’t focus on one single issue, but meanders around, similar to how regular life would go. Eff is a lovable character who you route for, and she always feels very tangible, making decisions that seem in character, and someone who comes across as a very real person.
For the Classroom
Although there are similarities between Wrede’s American frontier and our own, the text doesn’t have any parallels for classroom material.