Reviews

A Buss Cover2.2FINALI am so grateful to those readers who have taken the time to write reviews of my story on their own book blogs,  Goodreads.com, Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com, Kobo.com, iBooks, and other websites. Thanks!Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 8.00.45 AMA 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.5.0 out of 5 stars -Midwest Reader, Amazon

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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 starsStacie, Goodreads Review

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American History your Students will Love to Read

A Buss from Lafayette is a great way for pre-teens to understand the American Revolution. Dorothea Jensen is accurate in the telling of our American Revolution and how our French Allies assisted us. Lafayette, the celebrated Revolutionary War hero, was critical to the process of our American victory. Jensen explains this with fun detail and an awesome glossary to assist readers with 19th Century English vocabulary. This historical fiction piece could be used in any middle Social Studies or English Language Arts class. Read by the whole class or used for book circles or independent reading for students who want to “read more”. I teach American History to 9th graders and plan to use it next year. The Lexile is perfect and the style of writing will be current for our middle school students. Thanks to Jensen for writing a book about history that is accurate, suspenseful and fun. I teach in Wisconsin.

 5.0 out of 5 stars –Tigger, Amazon.com

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An Intriguing Classic American Story

Seldom do so many enticing strands of human life come spinning together, seemingly without effort. Although presented as a young people’s, or even a teenage girl’s, historical novel, A Buss from Lafayette will happily twang the strings of anyone who ever had a crush, or encountered a thrilling challenge, or chafed at difficult relatives or faced a crisis – or who dreamed about meeting a rock star. That, after all, is what the former Marquis de Lafayette was in 1824 and 1825, when he was welcomed with pomp and adulation everywhere on a return tour of the United States.

Here we have a smart and curious-minded New England girl of 14 confronting the threshold of adolescence, and navigating — sometimes, negotiating — changed relationships with everything and everyone around her — especially a very pregnant new stepmother, and a male playmate who suddenly wants to be her boyfriend. This story develops so naturally, and so colorfully, that the historical details and post-Revolutionary surroundings that slide their way into the narrative don’t jar or divert from the tale. The girl’s climactic encounter with the Great Man himself opens the way to a richly satisfying end.                                                 5.0 out of 5 stars– Amazon Customer

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Why I like A Buss from Lafayette

– We get to learn about Lafayette’s contribution to the Revolutionary War!  I didn’t even know France and Spain helped America in the Revolutionary War until a while ago, and this helped me understand better.

– Clara is such a likeable character in this coming of age story.  In fact, all the characters are wonderful.  We get to see them mature, and we get to find out more about them when initially we had different opinions.

– The setting in Colonial New Hampshire is described really nicely and you can actually feel like you’re there!  I found out lots about colonial towns and clothing.  It must have taken a lot of research to write this book!

At first, I had no idea what a buss was at all.  Whenever I looked up ‘A Buss from Lafayette‘ online, all I got were ways to get tickets from Lafayette, Indiana for a bus.  the book tells us (and in the very informative glossary, as well) that a buss is actually a playful, smacking kiss.

I give this book an eight out of ten!  It’s wonderful!

– “Violet Tiger” librarymind.weebly.com

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Yes!
I read this with a 14 year-old grand-daughter who enjoyed the history, while I relished the manners, moral and mischief.
This skillful and engaging author has produced a savvy blend of action and anecdote to recount the alternately cautious/ wild/ eager ride of a girl approaching womanhood in post- Revolutionary America. Never didactic, yet full of facts, the story blends a believable heroine with a pinch of danger, a heap of humour and a generous portion of relatable emotions to concoct a Salmagundi- like feast for a varied female audience. Highly recommended!. 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Another Great Book

 

This is another great book by Dorothea Jensen. It contains so much history, life lessons and teen emotions in just one week of Clara’s diary. The book reminds the reader that people and events are not always what they first appear to be. You can easily put yourself in Clara’s place and understand what she is going through. I especially liked all the history facts that are not the major ones we learn in school. I highly recommend this book to both young and older readers. 5.0 out of 5 starsAmazon Customer, Amazon.com

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A Wonderful Book in that Genre
I grew up when children read a lot more than they do today, and was fully immersed in such historical classics for young readers as The Witch of Blackbird Pond and The Sherwood Ring. A Buss From Lafayette is a wonderful book in that genre, about the American Revolution and a young girl’s coming of age, It will I’m sure do wonders for getting more young people hooked on reading again instead of watching. Highly recommended. 5.0 out of 5 stars                                         –
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 A Wonderful Coming of Age Story…Great Historical Value Too!
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.  5.0 out of 5 starsMami Tales
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     Nothing to Do with Dusty History Books

This lovely jaunt into the year 1825 has nothing to do with dusty history books, but rather, brings to life the less known history of General Lafayette through the eyes of a spunky girl.

Clara is a 13/14 year old girl, who’s still coming to terms with the death of her mother, quick marriage of her father to her aunt and the fast approaching birth of her half-sister. Add her strong dislike for her red hair, a pesky brother and the horrid idea that she should give up the most fun aspects of life and become more ‘lady-like’, and her world seems miserable. Her clever wit and slightly rebellious attitude make her easy to love, especially since her thoughts and feelings are often justified and understandable. Teenage girls will have no problem relating to her troubles, and through Clara, they can realize that girls from that time frame weren’t necessarily so different from girls today.
The author does a marvelous job bringing the past to life. There’s just enough details and explanations to make the lifestyle, habits and expectations from that time clear while keeping everything familiar enough that readers can relate to the characters. More unknown terms and items are explained in a way which doesn’t break the flow of the story. At the end of the book, there’s glossary to help out too.
General Lafayette’s role in American history is expertly woven into Clara’s life. The important events are relayed through her conversations with various characters in different situations. A little humor and tidbits from the time period are thrown in at the same time, helping to keep the ‘tales’ broken up and refreshing. There were a few moments where one or two recounts of Lafayette’s important moments stretched out a little long, but in general, they were interesting.
Although this isn’t an action book, the pace holds nicely. Clara finds herself in one predicament after the other as she tries to come to terms with those around her. There’s a little romance involved and some tough rivalries in the area of friendship–those same things which teenagers face today.
Summed up, this is a marvelous historical fiction story. The characters are kept true to their time frame while, at the same time, are portrayed in a way modern day teens will have no trouble relating to. The ‘history lesson’ glides effortlessly into the main plot, insuring an educational delight. This is one YA historical fiction, I can highly recommend.  5.0 out of 5 starsBookwormforkids
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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

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Like a Gift with a Bow on It

Nothing draws me in more than historical fiction.  I love stories and I love history.  With this story I was drawn in by the title of the book.  I had no idea what a ‘Buss’ was and knew I had to find out.  This middle grade/young adult historical fiction takes place in a 1825 New Hampshire town interweaving the historical event of General Lafayette’s 7 day tour of the region in his final farewell to the American people and the story of Clara Hargraves, the spunky, feisty fourteen-year-old heroine.

I found many elements of this book very enjoyable.  First, I found the book pleasantly paced.  You know the type of book when you reach the end of the chapter and are left with little morsels and tell yourself just one more chapter, I felt this way on many occasion and read later in the evening then expected.  I just knew the young girl would meet Lafayette in the most bizarre manner and have a grand tale to tell.

Secondly, I found the blend of the story and the historical elements to flow seamlessly.  It is evident that this author did her research and it made the story feel that much more authentic.  I could easily imagine a fourteen old girl like Clara and everything that she had to face and the problems she had to overcome through the detailed descriptions of time and place as well as the use of prose gives the reader a palette for the time period and location.

In the end the ‘Buss’ from Lafayette is tied in nicely like a gift with a bow on it with Clara’s story surrounding her new sibling.  It is also of interest to read about how the author made the story centred around the ‘Buss’ from Lafayette and how it is connected to where she lives and a person she knows.  Read below in the author bio to discover it as well.  There is nothing better in my books then a book that combines a great story with historical elements that can teach us something new.

I enjoyed reading this book and I would recommend this one to girls aged 10-15 as well.  Clara the main character is dealing with similar issues girls today face even though she is in the 19th century.  Feminine stereotypes, stepmother issues, new romance, and acceptance of self.   And of course, the reader will learn a little bit about American History as well. 5.0 out of 5 stars-Bonnie Dani, Adalinc.org

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Takes You Back in Time

Clara is a likeable teen and a 19th-century tomboy of sorts, who strides a horse and swims in the pond. On the cusp of adulthood, she experiences conflicting feelings toward Dickon, a childhood playmate who suddenly asks her to a dance.  The book-ended connections about Clara’s auburn hair tie the plot together in a charming way.
 
The narrative moves forward, in part, through Clara’s diaries and letters which offer unique insights into the red-haired protagonist.  This epistolary style keeps the story interesting and engaging. 
 
Jensen sprinkles large doses of early-American history throughout the narrative, which are often recounted in stories told by old-timers or discussed at the family dinner table.  In some instances, the historical references go on a bit too long and could be condensed for YA readers.

What tweens and teens will like
….

Buss hits most criteria for teen angst, even though it’s not a contemporary setting.  Girls will identify with Clara’s struggles to find herself and fit in with society.  She is in turmoil with her parents, especially with her new mother, and can’t understand why her childhood playmate, Dickon, suddenly asks her to the dance.What family members, educators will like
…
Ah, the challenge of teen years, even across the centuries!  While Jensen shows Clara’s rebellious side and search for identity, Clara ultimately makes peace with the people in her life and and comes to terms with the changes they face.  Best, she accepts her unique talents and physical appearance as gifts to be treasured, not scorned. 

This is a great read for those who love early-American history.  Librarians and  history teachers will want to recommend A Buss for Lafayette to girls in their classes.My Recommendation
Tween and teen girls will enjoy stepping back in time with Jensen’s historical fiction/coming-of age tale.  Along with snippets of history, it offers just enough teen struggle and budding romance to keep YA readers (and history buffs) turning the page to find out what happens to Clara.

Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 8.55.31 AM – Cat Michaels, Cat’s Corner
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 Charming Historical Fiction

I found the story charming and very educational. I learned a lot about General Lafayette’s role in the American Revolution.

I liked Clara’s personality and the evolving relationship with her stepmother, cousin, and Dickon, who used to tease her. I think if there had been a little more interaction with each of those characters, it would have been even better.

I think fans of Laura Ingalls’ books, Anne of Green Gables, and Larkrise to Candleford would enjoy this.

Some young people might feel this is too much like a history lesson than a fun story. But it is a great way to teach history. And I happen to enjoy historical fiction! Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 8.55.31 AMChristina D., Goodreads

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Navigating the Timeless  Pitfalls of Being 14

“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 abuzz 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.”   Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 8.39.45 AMI Read What You Write Blog

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As Good as The Riddle of Penncroft Farm!

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.”  Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 8.55.31 AM              – Readnride, Goodreads Review

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Delightful Historical Fiction

A Buss from Lafayette is a delightful historical fiction. I thoroughly enjoyed going back in time and reliving a bit old-fashioned American history. Dorothea’s story has a nice balance of history, suspense, scandal, twists, scenery, and memorable characters. I recommend her book for all ages as it is a good read. –  Rebecca Krusee

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A Lovely Book

Clara Hargraves is the heroine of [A Buss from Lafayette]. 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.  5.0 out of 5 stars– Critter Bee via NetGalley.com

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A True Act of Character

The Players

Clara – 14 year old main character; clever as a whip; suffers teasing for her read hair; resentful of her aunt becoming her stepmother

Joss – Clara’s older brother; a jester and jokester; dislikes having to help Clara with chores

Priscilla – Joss and Clara’s aunt-now-stepmother; very pregnant; wants Clara to be a proper lady

Father – supportive of Priscilla; kind and gentle type

Dickon Weeks – the older boy who teases Clara incessantly

Hetty – Clara’s mean, snotty, snobby cousin; she loves any opportunity to put Clara down

Lafayette – a kind, chubby man who saved the nation; he is back in the States for his farewell tour

The Quote

I did indeed feel as if I had wandered into the Cinderella story. How confusing that my fairy godmother and my wicked stepmother are turning out to be the same person, I thought. But my stepmother is not really wicked. She is just not my mother.

The Highs and Lows

  • Historical aspect. The book revolves entirely around Lafayette’s part in the American Revolution, for which he is now known as the National Guest. In almost every chapter there is something that brings back the focus to Lafayette and continues to explain various pieces of history leading up to true separation of the colonies.
  • The State of the Family. Back in the day, it was common for a brother to marry his brother’s widow and look after the family. Although not as common, the reversal is true, too. Caroline Hargraves passed only a little over a year prior to the book’s beginning. Her sister Priscilla, who taught school for years in Boston, has returned home and married Caroline’s widowed husband. They are now expecting a baby any day.
  • – Clara’s Behavior. At times Clara had major outbursts and said some very hurtful things. She’s 14 and her mother died barely over a year ago, and now her schoolteacher aunt has become her stepmother and is very pregnant. It is a lot to take in while still grieving, and I can understand the resentment. What surprised me, though – especially for the time and the belief in such highly respectful attitudes towards your elders – was that Clara’s father never punished her. Or even spoke to her about her outbursts. Those moments did not seem plausible to me, given what I have read in the time period.
  • + Dickon Weeks. Clara and Dickon have grown up together what seems like their whole lives. During that time Dickon picked on Clara constantly. In fact, the word she used was “tortured.” As the book plays out, an increasingly embarrassed or disappointed Dickon shows his feelings for Clara, who completely misses them by miles. She still believes he is up to his no good tricks, but all the signs the author gives about Dickon’s behavior reveal how much he likes Clara. It was sweet and cute and the classic story of “he teases you because he likes you.”
  • – Hetty. She is atrocious! Just awful! There is even one point where, in front of her own mother and Priscilla, she says something incredibly rude to Clara, and both older women are shocked. She is so ill-spirited! (And narcissistically egotistical.)
  • + Clara’s Growth. 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.
  • The Lafayette Scene. In a moment of despair and private crying bout is when Clara meets the National Guest, General Lafayette. It is a beautiful and sweet scene, and even though I don’t believe the scene to have any historical merit, it makes me like the man even more. This is where the title gets its name. I didn’t know what a “buss” was until I reached this point, and then it all made sense.
  • The Afterward. There is an afterward and a glossary at the end of the book that explains further some of the historical relevance of the time. I found it very helpful to be included.

The Take-Away

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.                                                                   –girlofathousandwonders blog

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A Warm, Funny, Coming-of-Age Novel

“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

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One of My New Favorites

“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!”                               – Sara (an  11-year old New Hampshire girl)

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Entertaining and Educational Read

“This book takes the reader back in time to the year 1825. Clara is fourteen and her stepmother is trying to teach her how to be a lady. Her stepmother was looking more like a fairy godmother and less like a wicked stepmother. Clara wanted to learn as much as she could about this Frenchman who had done so much for her country. Entertaining and educational read.” 5.0 out of 5 starsKay Lalone Blog

I know the following Goodreads reviews repeat what I have listed above, but I just figured out how to embed stuff and couldn’t resist trying it out here!

Goodreads reviews for A Buss from Lafayette

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