Jepp, Who Defied the Stars

376p. Hyperion/Disney. 2012. RTE $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4231-3500-5; ebook $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4231-6999-4.
RedReviewStarGr 7 Up—Is our fate predetermined, or do we make our own fortune (or misfortune) through our actions and decisions? Marsh ponders this age-old question through the eyes of an extraordinary hero. When Jepp, a fatherless dwarf, joins the court of the Spanish Infanta, he's not prepared for the daily humiliations that become his life. He also doesn't expect to fall in love with a fellow performer, melancholy but lovely Lia. When she is raped, Jepp attempts to help her and her unborn child escape-with tragic results. As punishment for his insubordination, Jepp becomes dinnertime entertainment for the eccentric Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe. Inspired by friendship with Brahe's daughter, Magdalene, Jepp reveals his educated mind and is welcomed into the astronomer's close-knit circle of scholars. He even finds true love. But before Jepp can embrace this promising new future, he must embark on a journey of self-discovery to resolve his past. Marsh crafts a beautifully poignant coming-of-age tale of struggle, tragedy, and, finally, of triumph. Jepp's indomitable spirit is truly inspiring, and it is this rare quality that makes his character so memorable. The universal moral of self-acceptance is communicated skillfully. This shining gem is a must-have.—Alissa J. Bach, Oxford Public Library, MI

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