“Legendborn – Book 1 of 2: The Legendborn Cycle” by Tracy Deonn

Genre – YA contemporary fantasy

A few weeks ago, I left on a road trip without arranging one important item – something to listen to! My companion cheerfully provided this (suitably long) book to keep us entertained. She had already read it, but scrupulously avoided spoilers. 

Several factors contributed to the book’s appeal. It takes place in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, on the UNC campus. I am well acquainted with the town and university, so I could picture everything. Additionally, the book is based on the legend of King Arthur, grounding it in a tale that is both familiar and psychologically profound. 

Legendborn tackles the issue of race in American head on. The protagonist, 16 year old African American Bree Matthews is dealing with her mother’s terrible, sudden death when she enters an “early college” program for bright teens at UNC. She discovers that she has magical powers which she cannot understand or control, and she gets into fights, flights, danger and mayhem.

Taking a step back, isn’t this how growing up and leaving home FEELS to all of us? It may not be so visible and dramatic, but I remember the sense of confusion and unreality that marked my first weeks in college.

I wish this book could have been more concise.

In the future, I won’t be “apologizing” for reading YA fiction. I like the excitement, and it broadens my horizons. 

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