Meyer, L. (2014). Wild rover no more: Being the last recorded account of the life and times of Jacky Faber. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Plot Summary: This is the final book in the Jacky Faber series and begins with Jacky finally being reunited with her love Jaimy. This does not last long though as she soon discovers she has been framed for treason and must flee for her life while Jaimy sails to England to find proof of her innocence. She takes a position as a nanny for a nightmare of a boy and his sweet younger sister only to be ratted out by a nosy post master. She takes the bratty boy hostage to make her escape though she later releases him unharmed. She then joins the circus as a tightrope walker. An old friend betrays her location and she is forced to flee the circus. Just when she thinks she is in the clear she is captured and put on trial. Jaimy has not yet returned from England so despite her layers best efforts she is sentenced to hang. The day of the hanging comes and it appears there will be no rescue Jacky is hung and pronounced dead. Later once her body is being removed it is revealed that Jacky was saved after all and just acting as if she were hung. Some actor friends of hers impersonated the executioner and put her in a special rig so she would not actually be hung. She then played dead until she was safely away. The book ends with her once again reunited with Jaimy and preparing to marry him.
Critical Evaluation: This book has a great tone of action and suspense. Jacky has many close calls and near misses so up to the moment the boards drop out from under her readers are still expecting some last minuet salvation. While this book makes the events leading up to Jacky’s hanging seem pretty bleak there is foreshadowing from the previous books in the series that indicates she may still be saved. The dress with the hidden harness makes its first appearance in a previous book when Jacky wears in it a play where her character is hanged. The executioner’s description also reminds readers of previous events. He is a hunchback with a cane. In the book before this one Jaimy administers several lashes to Jacky dressed as a hunchback as part of her sentence to another crime. He does so to spare her some of the pain of her punishment so the similarity between the characters acts as a clue that Jacky will escape her punishment again. Overall the entire series pays great attention to historical detail highlighting different parts of history as Jacky’s travels take her across the globe. This last book illustrates the tensions between the United States and England prior to the war of 1812. It also shows American sensibilities regarding issues of drinking and gambling. In the story Jacky drinks soda water for the first time and notes that her tavern should sell it on Sunday morning instead of spirits to gain the approval of the local church as she has clashed with them in the past over the women’s temperance movement. She also notes the ways to get around the ban on gambling while working in the circus while still saying on the good side of the community and the local church.
Reader’s Annotation: In this final installation in the Jacky Faber Series, Jacky is framed for treason and once again faces hanging will she be able to escape death one last time?
Author Information: L.A. Meyer has been praised for his vivid characters and attention to historical detail in the jacky Faber series. In addition to writing he has also worked as an illustrator and naval officer. He currently owns a gallery and retail store in Maine with his wife.
Genre: Historical Fiction
Curriculum Ties: This book illustrates the tensions between the Americans and the British on the verge of the war of 1812.
Booktalk Ideas: 1) What do you think of Jacky’s uncanny ability to escape death, and did you think her time had really run out when she was sentenced to hang?
2) Why do you think Jacky has such loyal friends? Even her friends who betrayed her have tried to make things right, what about Jacky inspires this loyalty?
Reading Level & Interest Level: This book is listed as being for ages 12-17 which seems appropriate. The entire series gets more mature as it goes so I see this as being of more interest to older teens but is its still perfectly suitable for younger teens and older tweens who are reading the series.
Challenge Issues: There is some violence in the book but it is not graphic or gratuitous and the entire series is popular and highly rated.
Why is it included?: I began reading the Jack Faber series as a middle grade reader and I think it is a great series for tweens and teens I really enjoy how the storyline gets more mature as the series goes on so while the first books in the series are more for tweens the last books are clearly meant for teen readers.