Goodreads: Home Sweet Rome
Series: Mira’s Diary #2
Six months ago Mira’s mother disappeared and only now has Mira learned that her mother is a time traveller and that she has gone back into the past to try to avert a disaster that will strike their family. Time travellers, however, aren’t meant to change the past, only to observe, and the Watchers, the time travel police, are now chasing Mira’s mother. Mira knows that the Watchers have punished before with death, so now she’s headed to Renaissance Rome to try to rescue her parent. Along the way she finds herself embroiled with the Inquisition, but can she save Giordano Bruno from execution?
The second book in the Mira’s Diary series brims with action, history, and a little bit of mystery. This time Mira is off to sixteenth-century Rome where she will meet the artist Caravaggio as well as the famous thinker Giordano Bruno. The Inquisition, however, is in force and when Bruno begins to mix heretical theological musings with his science, it’s up to Mira to save him.
Lost in Paris suffered from somewhat heavy-handed declarations against bigotry and injustice, but the sequel manages to showcase historical wrongs without ever becoming didactic. This time Mira does not rush hot-headedly into trying to convert all her friends into more modern thinkers, but is able to recognize the cowardice and shame she carries within herself. The struggle to fight injustice thus becomes more personal, more thoughtful. Suddenly Mira has a glimpse of why others might act the way they do and that makes a world of difference not only in her approach to history but also to the book’s.
If I have one criticism of the book (aside from the hand-wavey rules of time travel, as touched upon in my earlier review of the first story), it is that Marissa Moss presents Bruno’s execution at the hands of the Inquisition as punishment for his scientific theories, even though her own story offers a glimpse of the thoughts the Church no doubt found a lot more troubling than the idea of a heliocentric universe–philosophical and theological arguments that questioned the truth of Christianity and core doctrines of the faith. That is not to say that Bruno deserved to die, but only that the book oversimplifies Bruno’s case to give a slightly misleading illustration of “Catholicism against science” rather than suggesting that the Church was also concerned with the philosophical thoughts mixed in with that science.
That aside, the book proves a fun romp through Renaissance Rome, offering glimpses of beautiful architecture, artistic masterpieces, and intriguing historical figures. Travelling with Mira feels a little like travelling through history one’s self. I can’t wait to see where she ends up next.