Jepp, Who Defied the Stars by Katherine Marsh.
This is a story that starts in the middle. Jepp is a dwarf in a cage, with a bruised and bloodied face, on a journey to a foreign land. He starts by telling us how he got there, how he left his mother’s safe and loving home on the border between Spanish Netherlands and the Protestant North, how he became a court dwarf for the Infanta in Brussels.
When he arrives at his destination, the story continues on, this time as a dwarf jester for the astronomer and astrologer Tycho Brahe. He is determined to be his own man, to break free of the destiny the stars have set for him. When the truth about his past comes to light, he is even more determined to live his own life on his terms.
Oh, Jepp. Such a wonderful guy trying to figure out who he is and his place in the world, trying to save his friends and family, with people not telling him the truth about everything (in that way that people don’t tell teenagers the truth about everything.) Plus, court intrigue and politics that he doesn’t fully grasp or understand, too wrapped up in his own issues and problems to see the bigger pictures at play until it’s too late.
It’s a beautiful book, and such a wonderful look at destiny and fate versus free will without it getting in the way of the plot. (in fact, most of the plot is Jepp proving to himself and the world that his life can be what he wants, not what his star chart, or anyone else, tells him it should be.)
I think it’s one that resonates to this day, and will appeal to teens who aren’t big historical fiction fans.
Also, it’s printed in blue ink. I love small touches like that in book design.
Book Provided by... my local library
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