Diversion Press, Inc.
When Charlotte returns to her hometown of Asebrook from boarding school, she knows what she can expect from her days--lessons from tutors, criticism from her mother, and listening to the same gossip from the same people. But there seems to be something different in store for Charlotte when she meets Adam and Jack, the two boys who will change her forever. However, when Jack and Charlotte fall in love, they realize the fight that they are going to have to put up if they want to be together. During a time when money, society, and how one is viewed as everything, Charlotte stops at nothing to be with the boy that she knows she loves. Even so, Jack seems unwilling to sacrifice her future and happiness since he knows he has nothing to offer. The Darling Rebels tells the story of bravery and resilience in the face of insurmountable odds and how far one girl will go for love, even if it means leaving her seemingly perfect life behind.
The Darling Rebels is set in the 1890's and I'll let you know right from the start that there are quite a few inconsistencies as regards to behavior and consequences and society overall in it. The author herself admits this is true and says she wondered if she'd slept through that part of history class. Though, she did have editors that let all of it slip through as well so... And still I read the book from beginning to end and it was absolutely heartbreaking.
Charlotte, a girl of means and high society, has come home from the Tisdale Academy for Girls which sounds rather grim, drained of color and focusing on teaching young girls to be proper ladies. Charlotte has no intentions of going back. But her mother, a formidable woman (picture Mrs. Olsen from Little House on the Prairie but never smiling and always getting her way, never approving), is the one who will decide Charlotte's future. Her father, a doctor, is a workaholic, or so it seems, but perhaps it has something to do with his wife. He indulges Charlotte whenever he can. Her mother arranges tutors for her all summer long, but every chance she gets, she escapes to the forest where she's always felt more at home. She makes friends with a boy named Adam, just a common boy who helps her when she falls out of a tree. And from there her life changes completely.
Adam is good looking, always looking for adventure and courting Charlotte's best friend, Lucy. But it doesn't stop him from going around town and into the woods with Charlotte. Lucy comes from less money than Charlotte yet her parents welcome Adam as a suitor-despite the fact that he seems to be just above poor and his mother is a single mom, something that would seem to be scandalous at that time in our history. Or, that was the impression I got. This was one of the things that bothered me about the novel. But, Adam has a good heart and his intentions toward Charlotte end up being supportive, though his adventuresome nature gets her into some troubles. The first and probably most adventurous is her introduction to Jack.
Jack and Charlotte hit it off right away despite the rumors that he is dangerous despite the fact that he lives in a cave in the forest, despite the fact that everyone hate him. Charlotte doesn't care what society thinks only what he thinks of her. Again, things that occur between them seem too improbable to have happened in the 1890's, but if you can forget it's the 1890's its still an enjoyable and tender love story.
However, I never saw the ending coming. And I bawled like a baby through the last third of the book. Do you know how hard it is to sob quietly at 2 am in the morning? I kept having to remove my glasses, wipe my eyes, read a few lines and do the process all over again. That part was so gut wrenching that I asked the author if she'd been through something like that or if she had that good of an imagination. It was pure imagination. Somewhere along the line, I got completely emotionally invested in the characters in the book and when the end came, I felt as devastated as the characters did. At least I felt like I did.
So, to sum it up, if you can take it out of the 1890's and read it as a love story and a story about a girl who didn't judge people by status but by character, then it's a great story. I think if it were rewritten and set in today's time period, the message would still be the same and as clear. There will always be people who judge by status and wealth rather than by character and there will be those who seem rebellious for not judging people that way.
Heather in Sandwich