The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi

true confessionsTitle: The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle

Author: Avi

ISBN: 978-0545477115

Publication Date: 1990

Genre: Historical Fiction

Reading Level/Interest Age: 13 and up

Plot: Thirteen year old, Charlotte Doyle, has embarked on an adventurous journey aboard the sailing ship, the Seahawk, under the command of Captain Jaggery where she will encounter many challenges. Miss Doyle starts her two month long voyage in Liverpool, England and her destination is Providence, Rhode Island where she will meet her family. The beginning of this trip is rocky because she is the only passenger and the only female on the vessel, which in 1832 is highly uncalled for a young lady to be unattended or protected by a chaperon. As to make things worse, mutiny is stirring amongst the crew and Miss Doyle – frightened from the very beginning – takes notice of this and warns the captain. With this news coming about with the captain and the crew, Miss Doyle sees the true nature of the captain and begins to see how a respectable gentleman such as him can seem more ruthless and cruel than the rest of the crew who are of a lower status.

Critical Evaluation: Many of the issues that Miss Doyle encountered dealt with race, class, gender, rebellion, and tough issues such as death. The sociological issues were of utmost importance in this book, which brought up stereotypes that revealed a harsh reality. Dystopian books entail a setting of a cruel government much like the one on the Seahawk, where the ruthless and merciless captain Jaggery is the judge, jury, and executioner. It is no wonder why mutiny was a rising issue. The possibility of encountering danger and witnessing death on deck of the ship has allowed Miss Doyle’s character to mature and cope with unexpected situations. Miss Doyle eventually learns how her decisions make a drastic impact on each crew member and she also learns the consequences due to her actions. Eventually, wanting nothing to do with the captain, Miss Doyle decides to gain the trust of the crew with every intent to join them and become their equal. As the tide turns, more issues arise and startling surprises lurk on every corner and she then discovers how important trust and respect is in a friendship.

Reader’s Annotation: A frightened thirteen year old girl embarks on a voyage at sea with a very notable captain and his malnourished and scary crew. On this long journey, she will see both very differently.

Author: According to the author’s official website Avi, or Edward Irving Wortis, was born in 1937 in the city of New York and he was raised in Brooklyn, New York. Based off of information Amazon’s note from the author, at the start of his writing career, he began as a playwright while working as a librarian. Once he had children of his own he began to write for young people.  His very first book was Things That Sometimes Happen which was published in 1970. Since then he has published seventy titles and has received awards and recognition for some of them. Avi has received the 2003 Newbery Award for Crispin: The Cross of Lead, two Newbery Honors, two Horn Book awards, and an O’Dell award.

Curriculum Ties:

  • History
  • Sociological issues
  • Dystopian government – on a minor scale
  • Mutiny or rebellion

Booktalking Ideas:

  • What would you do if you were in Miss Doyle’s position after she realizes what the captain is really like?

Challenging Issues:

  • Graphic detail

Defensive Maneuvers:

  • I would be sure to study and memorize the library’s collection policy.
  • The Library Bill of Rights must also be brought to the challenger’s attention stating that the library is an information institution that provides both information and ideas.
  • Have both good and bad reviews (from respected sources) about the book at hand.
  • Remember to mention the awards and honors that the item has received.
  • Be sure to listen to the person who is challenging the book and do not interrupt them while they are speaking. Try to understand where the patron is coming from when he or she states their concerns about the material.
  • When you respond to the challenger, have a calm and respectable tone informing them that the library must do all that it can to provide intellectual freedom to its patrons, young and old.

Why This Book? This particular novel is a classic and stays true to the historical time period. Although the protagonist in this book is a young girl, I feel that most teens are able to grasp what life was like during this particular part in history.


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