On Daniel Tucker’s 13th birthday, a hawk flies over his family’s farm. Does the hawk announce a visitor, or warn of imminent danger? Daniel’s mother and sister listen for the hawk’s message, while something urgent stirs inside Daniel. He is struggling to find his own path between the heritage of his Pequot mother and the customs of his English father.
Meanwhile, a new family has moved into the crumbling cabin next door. Hiram Coombs can’t believe his parents have returned to Vermont now that the Revolutionary War is over. Don’t they remember the terror of the raid, when Indians and Redcoats burned the family’s previous farm and kidnapped Hiram’s uncle?
When Hiram encounters Daniel at the trout stream that separates the two farms, he sees only a dirty Injun,” while Daniel regards Hiram as buffle-brained.” The arrival of two more unexpected visitors heightens the tensions between the boys and threatens to rekindle the smoldering embers of the war.
This beautifully written novel traces the dramatic transformation of two thirteen-year-old boys in Vermont shortly after the end of the Revolutionary War. Daniel is the son of an English father and a Pequot Indian mother, torn between the conflicting customs and heritages of the two cultures. Hiram and his family are Scotch-Irish, and have recently returned to Vermont after fleeing a few years earlier during a bloody and deadly raid by the British and their Indian supporters. Daniel's family was also victimized in the raid, but Hiram can only see them as "dirty Injuns" in his anger toward the Indians that aided the British. Hiram and Daniel's lives become strongly intertwined through both joy and tragedy, changing them and their views of other people forever. Written with beautiful, touching metaphors and authentic speech, this historical novel is compelling and thought provoking. Based on the true story of the author's direct ancestors, it is well researched and features strong characterization. The chapters alternate narratives and viewpoints between the two boys, allowing the reader to see the root causes of the prejudices and fears that haunt them both. The subtle but steady changes in the boys are realistically portrayed, and their relationships-between each other, their families, and society around them-no doubt reflect some of the same struggles that young adults face today. This excellent novel is a strongly recommended purchase for libraries of all sizes. VOYA CODES: 5Q 2P M J (Hard to imagine it being any better written; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2005, Clarion, 264p., $16.Ages 11 to 15.