The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry

This morning (1.23.17) the American Library Association announced the winners of the Youth Media Awards for 2017! Check out the full list here. One of the honor books chosen for the Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults was The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry.

The Passion of Dolssa is historical fiction set in 13th century Provence, following the Albigensian Crusade. There is an uneasy peace and the church has now turned it's eye to rooting out the last remaining vestiges of heresy in the region. Dolssa de Stigata is a young woman with deep religious convictions and a very close, personal relationship with Jesus. For this she is considered a heretic and sentenced to death by burning.

Botille is a matchmaker in a small town who lives in the tavern with her two sisters. The girls have not had an easy life, but have found a home for themselves and a place among the people of Bajas. When Botille's path crosses with that of Dolssa she must decide what she truly values and how to do what is right while also protecting her family.

The Passion of Dolssa is well written and well researched with a feminist twist. This is a history for anyone who enjoys strong, outspoken female characters, beautiful storytelling, and lesser known historical settings. Julie Berry has taken a period in history that many either know nothing about or very little and made it come alive. The story is told from found documents and interrogations, making some parts of the narrative unreliable and adding to the intrigue. This is the type of book that you can't stop thinking about and any task that gets in the way of reading it will feel odious. Pick up a copy of this newly honored title and make sure to free up your schedule. You won't be doing anything until you turn the last page.