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Crooked River

1 rating: 3.0
A book by Shelley Pearsall

Starred Review.Grade 5-8–Pearsall quickly engages readers with her captivating tale of fear, ignorance, and bravery on the Ohio frontier. The year is 1812 and 13-year-old Rebecca Carver is driven hard to help her older sister, Laura, make up for … see full wiki

Tags: Books
Author: Shelley Pearsall
Genre: Children's Books
Publisher: Yearling
1 review about Crooked River

Beautifully researched and told

  • Sep 20, 2010
Rating:
+3
Dreaming of seeing my own books in bookstores one day, I find myself consciously wondering sometimes, what makes me pick a book up from the shelf? What makes me look at the blurb on the back? And then what makes me buy? Unfortunately what makes me buy is all too often influenced by whether the book is cheap, and some of my most treasured finds have been remaindered hardbacks.

Crooked River was a hardback remainder with a beautiful cover. Purple clouds (I like purple) loom in a black-lit sky and jagged lightning stabs at a woven earth-toned patterned thread. That's why I picked it up. The back blurb lists the awards received for Shelley Pearsall's previous book, Trouble Don't Last, convincing me she must be a good writer who tells a good tale. And the inside flap reveals the voice of Indian John in prose poetry, coupled with this introduction, "The year is 1812. A white trapper is murdered. And a young Chippewa Indian stands accused." I was hooked.

The story is told in two voices, that of Indian John with flowing words likes streams of living meaning, and that of Rebecca Carver, a thirteen-year-old slowly learning just how wrong the world can be. Her halting steps, from obedient acceptance of everything she's told, to human concern and thankfulness and thought, are beautifully told. Her words reflect the language of the time--the author says she mined old documents and diaries for authentic turns of phrase. The passages grow to reveal the mind of a genuine girl with a thirteen-year-old's passion for truth and joy under the burden of a settler's needs.

I learned how justice was conducted on the frontier, how judges travelled from town to town, how decisions were made and lives ended with the aid of a jury of somebody's peers. I learned of human frailty, of good people believing falsehood and closing their ears to truth, and also of hope. I longed for the right ending to the book, though I couldn't see how it would come. And then I read an ending that was righter than right and delighted me.

I hope I might read Trouble Don't Last one day. But for now, Crooked River was a wonderful introduction to an author whose research astounds and convinces, and whose writing voices inspire.

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