Long May She Reign by Ellen Emerson White
Let me get this out of the way first: don’t be turned off by the length of Long May She Reign. The book is worth it. When I first saw the page count, I was shocked and a little apprehensive. I like long books, but 720 pages? In a YA book? But after reading it, I’m glad Long May She Reign is so lengthy. A shorter book may still have been enjoyable, but it would not be as satisfying.
The plot of Long May She Reign is deceptively simple, about the challenges a young woman faces over the course of her first year of college. But Meg Powers is no ordinary college freshman. If she were any other freshman, a book of this length would be interminably boring. Meg, however, is the daughter of the country’s first female president, still recovering from the physical and emotional damage inflicted while she was kidnapped and tortured by people her mother refused to negotiate with.
Long May She Reign is a character study you can really sink into, a smart book that respects readers’ intelligence and that of its characters. Meg is strong, smart, and somehow managed to retain her sense of humor. The length allows Ellen Emerson White to explore Meg’s psyche in depth, and she is such a complex, nuanced character that adults will also find much to appreciate here. (In fact, White says it “is very much an adult book”).
This is the fourth book in Ellen Emerson White’s President’s Daughter series. While there were references to past events—besides the kidnapped and tortured part, I mean—and what I assume were in-jokes, it does stand on its own. I haven’t read the other books in the series but still found it easy to follow what was going on in this one. (If, like me, you haven’t read the first three books, read Liz B.’s Under the Radar post while you wait for them to be republished next summer.*) That said, I do think the reading experience would have been richer had I read the books in order, and that’s saying something, because this was a brilliant read on its own. We’re told enough about past events to understand the circumstances in Long May She Reign, but actually reading about them in depth, as they happened in the first three books, would likely make the impact of what Meg must now deal with that much stronger.
Long May She Reign will be published on October 30.
* Though I must admit to wanting to read Susan’s story, Friends for Life, even more.