Author: Ruth Hull Chatlien
Publisher: Amika Press
Type of book: 1862, Minnesota, Native American captivity, family, marriage, loyalty, determination, deprivation, capture, wars, possessions, mindset
Year it was published: 2017
Southern Minnesota, August 1862. Smoke fills the horizon and blood soaks the prairie as the Sioux fight to drive white settlers from their ancestral homeland. Sarah Wakefield and her young son and baby daughter are fleeing for their lives when two warriors capture them. One is Hapa, who intends to murder them. The other is Chaska, an old acquaintance who promises to protect the family. Chaska shelters them in his mother’s tepee, but with emotions running so high among both Indians and whites, the danger only intensifies. As she struggles to protect herself and those she loves, Sarah is forced to choose between doing what others expect of her and following her own deep beliefs.
Main characters include Sarah Wakefield and Chaske. Sarah Wakefield is a woman who is not welcomed in churches due to her mother's gossip and she has two young children, Nellie and Jimmy. Sarah also tries her best to be open minded and sees that its better to live as people who captured her rather than fighting them every step of the way like other fellow captives think. Just like other people of her time, she has prejudices towards Native Americans and understands the reasons why some people are far more bitter than she. For me also she is ahead of her time in thinking which causes her to be alienated from her peers. She is hardworking, loyal and very determined. Chaske is best described also as determined, helpful, loyal and will do whatever he can for Sarah and her young children. Ina is Chaske's mother who teaches Sarah how to do certain tasks and becomes very close to Sarah. Ina depends a lot on her son and will do with whatever he decides. No race in this particular book is painted as black and white, but they are painted as human beings with complex situations and therefore its hard to choose, if at all, which side is right.
There are no right or wrong choices, just grayness all around
The story is written in first person narrative from Sarah Wakefield's point of view. While a very compelling story of where the line between right and wrong is thin and ambiguous it hooks the reader and doesn't let him go. I also liked that Sarah is not a "white savior" and that the time is portrayed accurately and she is but a human being and a woman at a time when being a womany is not good. Sarah, just like anyone, makes mistakes while living with Native Americans. She also tends to suffer for being ahead of her time in thinking and deeds.
(From the book)
Ruth Hall Chatlien has been a writer and editor of educational matrials for nearly thirty years, specializing in US and world history. She is the author of Modern American Indian Leaders for middle grade readers. Her award winning first novel The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte, portrays the tumultuous life of Elizabeth "Betsy" Patterson Bonaparte.
She lives in northeastern Illinois with her husband, Michael, and a very pampered dog named Smokey. When she's not writing, she can usually be found gardening, knitting, drawing painting or watching movies.
I at first thought of starting this section with a joke, but realize that when it comes to this complex and morally ambiguous tale its not the right way to handle it. For me, this is an exhaustive journey that has no right answers or paths, and its not easy or possible to choose the "right" side. What is also sad is that a lot of things from the book are not immune from time; in fact it carries on to today in terms of mass hysteria and witch hunt that will be targeting another group of people. (This is why its important to study history, why its important to change the way we teach history to our children.) One of the other things that stood out to me is the relationship pairings, or how its much more scandalous and deadly if a non-white man takes a white wife, while if a white man takes a non-white woman as a wife, very little sensation is caused, which caused me to recall some of Ronald Takaki's book titled A Different Mirror. (And in that book its mentioned why.)
This is for HFVBT
4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)