Pawn by Aimée Carter is a YA novel featuring a strong female protagonist (Kitty) whose identity is taken from her by those who have social power. Kitty wakes up with the face and life of Lila, a young woman who is entitled to privilege through birth status. Kitty could never have attained this status in her government-controlled world. But in exchange, Kitty loses her freedom and rights to a powerful family that restricts resources from the “lower” masses.
Kitty’s strength, built through struggle is commendable, as is her loyalty to those who shared her previous life. Having taken on Lila’s identity, Kitty learns that Lila was starting her own revolution against the unjust society they both share. Kitty now faces a new purpose and must decide whether she can change the world, or even wants to, now that she is living in the “upper crust” of it.
Pawn would be a good match for paired novel reading in secondary school classrooms. A good novel match would be “The Hunger Games” and thematic study could involve any of the following:
- Government Control
- Restriction of Resources
- Controlling Population with Media
In addition, Kitty has a learning disability that affects her reading. Though she is very smart, she fails the test which determines her status, because she can’t understand the questions. This book would lead to some valuable classroom discussion on ability and disability, and how supports like scribes and technology helps those with learning challenges reach their potential.
Overall, this Harlequin Teen novel will engage young adult readers and provide some valuable discussion and research topics on social equity and character resilience.