The Unbinding of Mary Reade

336p. Sky Pony. Jun. 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781510727052.
Gr 8 Up—In her debut novel, McNamara creates a compelling backstory for legendary female pirate Anne Bonney, as well as folding accurate historical details into a plot about how and why youth took to sea in 18th-century England, the physical and social hazards of social class clashes on land and at sea, and the gender politics that, then too, made the simple fact of being female constantly dangerous. The fictional Mary Reade, raised from early childhood as a boy, leaves her poverty-stricken home in Wapping, London, with her best (and uninformed) friend, a boy who later becomes a love interest and a danger in her life when they meet again in the Caribbean. In the meantime, Mary has shot an evil sea captain, joined a pirate gang that includes Anne and her lover, Calico Jack, and has finally been revealed as a young woman rather than a young man. Anne and Mary fall in love across months and chapters that present only a slightly anachronistic view of their awareness and willingness to follow their hearts. All of this makes for delightful reading for anyone who enjoys pirate stories or is seeking LGBTQ+ fiction that is positive as well as fairly realistic.
VERDICT A great choice for historical fiction collections.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing