Bloody Jack, L A Meyer, Harcourt Inc, 2002, 278 pp
Once a while back on this blog I asked for readers of Young Adult fiction to give me some recommendations. This book and author were recommended by a friend in Cincinnati, OH, who runs a private school and reads this blog. Thank you Vicki!
Bloody Jack is so good! Bloody Jack is a girl: Mary "Jacky" Faber. She was born in 18th century London, where her whole family perished in the plague, so she was cast onto the streets an orphan. After 4 or 5 years scrambling to exist as part of a gang of begging street urchins, she sets off on her own and by pretending to be a boy, gets signed on as a ship's boy on the Dolphin, a warship of the British Navy. The reason she gets hired is because she can read.
Naturally it is non-stop adventure, complicated by "the deception" about her sex and by her falling in love with Jaimy, another ship's boy. How Mary gets the nickname Bloody Jack, how she deals with getting her period and being thought of as "queer" because of her affection for Jaimy, how she preserves her virginity and deals with passion are all humorously and perfectly handled for a teen reader by the author.
The ending leaves you dying to read the next in the series to find out what happens next to Bloody Jack. I haven't had this much fun reading a book since Cryptonomicon.