The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi

(Cover picture courtesy of Small Review.)

Not every thirteen-year-old girl is accused of murder, brought to trial, and found guilty.  But I was just such a girl, and my story is worth relating even if it did happen years ago.  Be warned, however: If strong ideas and action offend you, read no more.  Find another companion to share your idle hours.  For my part I intend to tell the truth as I lived it.

Not every thirteen-year-old girl narrator is a Mary Sue who annoys me.  But Charlotte Doyle was just such a girl, and my opinions are worth relating even if I doubt people will listen.  Be warned, however: If strong ideas and action interest you, read no more.  Find a different companion that doesn’t waste precious hours of your life.  For my part I intend to tell the boring, disappointing truth as I see it.

You may begin writing your hate mail now.

I was bored out of my mind while I read this book because I could predict every single plot ‘twist’.  Even in truly bad books, there are some surprises, but there were none in The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle.  Perhaps this is because every single ‘girl empowerment’ book I’ve ever read is the same.  Charlotte Doyle starts out innocent, then is hardened a bit and works to make the people who mock her respect her, which she does.  Real life isn’t like that, believe me, especially when it comes to men.

Charlotte is a boring, predictable character who changes very little throughout the novel.   I could sort of identify with her in the end, but other than that I pretty much loathed her.  She is uninteresting, so at times I was cheering for the villain, Captain Jaggery, who isn’t all that evil as ship captains go.  Looking back on it, pretty much all of the characters in this novel have no depth whatsoever.  This world is so populated with Mary Sues and Gary Stus that it’s sickening.  Speaking of sickening, it is obvious that Avi was trying to shove symbolism into the novel, especially when Captain Jaggery snaps and his formerly immaculate cabin is all broken and poorly prepared.  That just screams “I want to win a literary award” to me.

The only good thing about this book was the wonderful research.  Avi put effort into it.  You can just picture the Seahawk and all of the clothes the characters wear.  But historical accuracy isn’t everything and nothing can redeem The True Confessions of Charlote Doyle, not even its status as a classic YA novel.

I give this book 0.5/5 stars.

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  1. Grace

    Haha… I loved this book as a kid, although I haven’t read it in years. I almost don’t want to re-read my old Avi books because after reading this I’m half afraid that I won’t like them as much anymore.

    • Carrie Slager

      Well, actually, I like a lot of Avi’s other books (like the Crispin ones). I just truly didn’t like this book. To me it screamed “girl empowerment” and “I’m inserting symbolism, see? Can you give me a literary award now?” I don’t like books that preach at me.

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