Skip 
Navigation Link
Family & Relationship Issues
Resources
Basic InformationMore InformationLatest NewsQuestions and AnswersLinksBook Reviews
12 and HoldingA Lethal InheritanceA Parent's Guide to Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning AutismA Stir of BonesAlone TogetherAlways On CallAngelsArtemis FowlBad Girls ClubBecoming AnnaBeing the Other OneBoys Will Put You on a Pedestal (So They Can Look Up Your Skirt)Breaking PointCaring for a Child with AutismCaring in Remembered WaysClawsCloserCrispinDaughter of the Queen of ShebaDirty DetailsDivorce PoisonEmpress of the WorldEpilepticEvery Visible ThingFamily FirstFamily TherapyFour CornersFrictionGandhi's WayGeorgia Under WaterGetting over Getting MadGetting the Love You WantGetting the Love You Want Audio CompanionHappiness Sold SeparatelyHope's BoyHow Families Still MatterHow to Keep Your Teenager Out of Trouble and What to Do If You Can'tI Don't Know How She Does ItI Only Say This Because I Love YouImagining RobertInside the American CoupleIt's Love We Don't UnderstandJakarta MissingJumping the ScratchLast Chance SaloonLife's WorkLive Through ThisLove SickLoving Someone With Bipolar DisorderMad HouseMaking Babies, Making FamiliesMaking Sense of SuicideMaking the RunMaking the RunMom's OK, She Just ForgetsMy HeartbeatNecessary NoiseNotes on a ScandalNothing to HideOrgasmsOut of the DustPlanet JanetPop & MeRaising AmericaRay's a LaughRelationship RescueReviving OpheliaRick SingsRunning with ScissorsSecrets of a Passionate MarriageSex, Family, and the Culture WarsSomeone Like YouSong for EloiseSpecial SiblingsStaying Connected to Your TeenagerStaying Sane When Your Family Comes to VisitThe Arctic IncidentThe AwakeningThe Bastard on the Couch CDThe Burden of SympathyThe CorrectionsThe CorrectionsThe Dream BearerThe Dulcimer Boy The Einstein SyndromeThe Emotional RevolutionThe Eternity CubeThe Hostile HospitalThe Inside Story on Teen GirlsThe Little FriendThe New I DoThe Normal OneThe OASIS Guide to Asperger SyndromeThe Rules of SurvivalThe Same Stuff as StarsThe StepsThe TwitsThe Vile VillageThe Virgin BlueThe Visitation HandbookThe Years of Silence are PastTwistedUltimate JudgementUnderstanding MarriageUnderstanding the Borderline MotherUnhappy TeenagersWastelandWhat Goes UpWhat It Means to Love YouWhat Our Children Teach UsWhen a Parent is DepressedWill You, Won't You?Zazoo
Related Topics

Divorce
Parenting
Life Issues

by Sara Ryan
Penguin USA, 2001
Review by Jodi Forschmiedt on Apr 23rd 2004

Empress of the World

Gifted teenager Nicola (Nic) attends a summer enrichment program for the ultra-bright. She intends to use her time discovering whether or not she wants to pursue archaeology as a profession, but instead finds herself embroiled in an on-again, off-again romance. Sounds normal, except that the object of Nic's affection is another girl, Battle Hall Davies.

Though surprised by the sudden appearance of her homosexual proclivities, Nic accepts it without much anguish or introspection. In contrast, Battle seems tormented, though not necessarily because of her relationship with Nic. The other teens in their social group barely bat an eye at Nic's and Battle's mutual attraction. After some predictable pushing and pulling back, including Battle deserting Nic to date a boy, Nic gets to the root of Battle's issues.

Perhaps this reviewer is too old to have a handle on current teen attitudes about homosexual peers, but the easy acceptance Nic and Battle receive strikes me as implausible. The author may have intended to suggest that a group of gifted kids would be more tolerant than average, but in fact the dynamic between the advanced abilities of these kids and their relationships with each other gets no attention. Side plots about other students at the summer program also ignore the psycho-social aspects of giftedness.

Or perhaps the author meant to foster tolerant attitudes among her readers by presenting characters who embody them. If so, it comes across as disingenuous. The youngsters in the story are much too nice. Being gifted doesn't make one immune from prevailing cultural forces.

Nic tells her story in the first person present tense, which gives the tale a compelling immediacy. Diary entries are interspersed with the narrative, giving the reader an additional window into Nic's thoughts. She's a likeable character and her voice sounds authentic, at least to my middle-aged ears.

Empress of the World contains no overt sexual behavior beyond kissing, and would be appropriate for any teen. Author Sara Ryan is reportedly at work on a sequel.

 

2004 Jodi Forschmiedt       

 

Jodi Forschmiedt reads, writes, and teaches in Seattle, Washington.