A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Adrian's character gives readers insight into, and inspires empathy for, living with anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders. The Author's Note gives suicide prevention and crisis hotline numbers; explains the author's own experience with mental illness; gives some history of mental illness; and explains the real places, people, and events that inspired or appear in the story.
Mental illness has been around since human beings have been around, so it should be normalized instead of stigmatized. It shouldn't define you or prevent you from living your life the way you want to, but it is something you'll have to deal with almost every day of your life. Getting help is crucial, but it can take a long time to find the right help and a lot of trying different things to find what works best for you. You'll have good days and bad days, and you have to let both happen to you. "No feeling is final," and "fear only wins when I stop fighting."
Positive Role Models
Adrian becomes a good model for perseverance when he learns to accept himself, and to accept the good and the bad that life throws at him. He also models compassion and communication because he cares about making the world a better place for everyone, and writes political pamphlets and makes speeches in Parliament urging social and political change. He and fiance Louisa, as well as brother Monty and Percy, model stable, loving, long-term relationships. Felicity models determination and perseverance as she keeps fighting for her right to pursue science in academic circles.
The three Montague siblings and Louisa are White and rich. Other important characters are mentioned with a range of skin colors. Percy is biracial, the orphan son of a British colonist and a woman native to Barbados, and described as having dark skin. Percy and Monty are a positive representation of a loving, committed, same-sex, interracial relationship. Pirates who are sympathetic characters from Northern Africa identify as Muslim. The pirate fleet has a strong, authoritative woman in a leadership role.
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Violence & Scariness
A character has suicidal thoughts and compulsively hurts himself, mostly by scratching or digging nails into skin until it bleeds. A past suicide is implied and a past attempt at suicide by taking arsenic is mentioned. Mention of past physical abuse. Some sword fights, punching, and threatening with guns and swords with brief mentions of blood and pain but no gore. A leg broken by accident with a description of the exposed bone and bleeding. Characters in danger from storms at sea, treacherous glacier crossings, and being captured and killed by pirates. Physical pain and distress like not being able to breathe are described during panic attacks.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A couple of deep kisses, one while straddling on a chair. Mention of having sex in the past and using condoms (called "French letters"). A few mentions of masturbation. A conversation with a fully nude woman, no body parts described. A brothel madam asks a customer, "you like stick it in?" Women stripping as they run to swim mentions seeing breasts and getting a bawdy kiss on the cheek from one.
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"Pr--k," "d--k," "t--ts," "bitch," "son of a bitch," "Jesus," "Christ," "for Christ's sake," "damn," "ass," "whore," "bastard," and the British "arsehole" and "shite."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Mention of getting high on snuff and either snorting it or rubbing it on gums. A fantasy powder is taken as medication for anxiety and compulsive disorders. Occasional drinking in taverns with one episode showing excess; consequences all involve the plot. A character mentions he's been sober for three months. Champagne at a wedding.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Nobleman's Guide to Scandal and Shipwrecks is the third and final volume in Mackenzi Lee's Montague Siblings series, set in the 1700s. Reading the books in order will give readers a deeper understanding of the characters, but isn't strictly needed to be able to follow this story. This volume takes a dark turn, narrated by youngest sibling Adrian, who has anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders, and a lot of time is spent detailing his thoughts, feelings, and pain as he tries, and often fails, to cope with a world that's just too much for him. He has suicidal thoughts, mentions a past attempt when he took arsenic, and hurts himself mostly by digging his nails in or scratching himself until he bleeds.. Parental loss is a major theme, since Adrian's quest is to find out how and why his mother died a year ago. Other violence includes mention of past physical abuse with brief descriptions of injuries and pain from it, and some swashbuckling fights with swords and guns that mention blood and pain but aren't gory. One description of a broken leg with bone sticking out is a bit gory. There are a few deep kisses with brief descriptions, otherwise sexy stuff is mostly mention of having sex in the past along with birth control, masturbation, and some female nudity without descriptions of sensitive body parts. Strong language includes "s--t," "pr--k," "d--k," and a character who often uses variations of "Jesus Christ" as an exclamation. Adults of legal age at the time drink alcohol occasionally and taverns are a frequent setting for meetings with meals. One incident of excessive drinking is shown, and past struggles with excessive drinking are mentioned. Adrian takes a fictional powder prescribed by a doctor to help with his mental disorders.
Is It Any Good?
This third, final installment in the swashbuckling series about the Montague siblings takes a serious and sometimes quite dark turn from the funny, campy adventures in the first two. Readers who enjoyed Monty and Felicity's earlier escapades should know that The Nobleman's Guide to Scandal and Shipwrecks has many more long passages about Adrian's mental and physical struggles than it does about adventure or romance on the road or at sea. There are adventures, pirates, mysteries, and even some funny parts, but the book is first and foremost a story about a young man struggling to accept his mind as it is, and learning to live with the knowledge that there will always be good days as well as bad ones.
Some of the extended parts where Adrian describes his thoughts can feel repetitive. But he'll definitely inspire empathy in teens who can handle the darkness, violence, and strong language as they get to know someone with anxiety and compulsive disorders as a whole, regular person like anyone else. Fans of the first two books will be glad to see favorite characters return, bringing humor and adventure along with them. The satisfying ending is sweet and hopeful.
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