"A book, too, can be a star, a living fire to lighten the darkness, leading out into the expanding universe." — Madeleine L'Engle

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Midwife's Apprentice by Karen Cushman

Title: The Midwife's Apprentice
Author: Karen Cushman
Published: 1995
Pages: 117
Rating: 4/5
Summary: One frosty evening, a girl who knows no home, no parents, and no name but Brat finds shelter and warmth in a farmer's dung heap. There jane the village midwife finds her. So it is that Brat- now called Beetle by her new mistress- begins her career as a midwife's apprentice.
It's not soft life. Jane is a hard woman with a sharp glance and a sharper temper. Still, Beetle makes a place for herself, adopting a cat and befriending one of the village boys. By secretly watching Jane work, she learns some of the skills the midwife greedily tries to hide. Beetle even gives herself a real name at last: Alyce.
Then one day she fails at an important assignmennt. Alyce runs away, believing she is too stupid to be of use to anyone. Is she truly Brat, a know-nothing who belongs nowhere? Or is she Alyce, the midwife's apprentice, a person with a name and a place in the world?

Review: I don't know what I expected from this book so it's easy to say that I liked it! At least more than I thought.

The story follows Brat while she tries to find a place where she can spend the night and get some food. Jane, the midwife, finds her and offers her a place for her to stay and have some food as long as she works. Then the story goes on for the reader to see through the hard circumstances that she goes through.

Knowing the life that Brat, who changed her name to Alyce, had up to that point was hard. The reader sees that not everybody has an easy life and that Alyce was one of those people. I think that all the things that Alyce went through helped the reader know more of who she was, why she did some things, and why she reacted the way she did.

I liked how Alyce changed her name and gave herself an identity. Also, I thought it was nice of her to make a friend and to have the cat who liked her. I understood why she left after she failed after knowing her story even though I may not have done the same thing she did.

I think this book gives the reader a sense of how little was known of women giving birth. It was interesting to see of what people thought would help a woman to give birth. Overall, this was a really good and interesting book to read.


  1. I've wanted to read The Midwife's Apprentice for forever, now, still haven't gotten around to it though. Thanks for this post, am glad to see you enjoy the book!

  2. Great review! My daughter and I read this book together and both enjoyed it. :)