Sunday, October 15, 2006

Crooked River

Pearsall, Shelley. 2005. Crooked River.

CROOKED RIVER is the second novel for author Shelley Pearsall, winner of the 2003 Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction. Set in Ohio in 1812, CROOKED RIVER tells the dramatic story of an unjust trial of an Indian--nicknamed Indian John--who was captured and held prisoner by one of the white settlers. "Indian John" is accused of murdering a white fur trapper. The story is told from two perspectives: prose chapters narrated by Rebecca Carver, the 13 year old daughter of the white man who captured the Indian, and a series of poems narrated by the Indian--whose real name is Amik. As his formal trial draws closer--although the men in the settlement have already concluded his guilt--Rebecca becomes more and more convinced that "Indian John" is innocent. One other man, Peter Kelley, a lawyer, also believes in his innocence. Kelley tries his best to win the case and set his friend Amik free, but the judge and jury will not be swayed. The trial is a mockery. Evidence or no evidence, they want this man to be convicted and hung.

CROOKED RIVER is based loosely on the true story of an Indian named John O'Mic who was tried and convicted of murder in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1812. He was held captive in a cabin and shared it with the white man and his family--there was a thirteen year old daughter. Using this true story as a basis and framework, Pearsall fictionalized the account to show how these people might have felt. Her research was thorough and impressive as her author's note indicates. While CROOKED RIVER is based on a true story, fact and fiction in this case have two different endings.

I thought CROOKED RIVER was a wonderful book. Although Pearsall is not of Native American ancestry, I believe her research was so extensive that Amik's voice was authentic. The poems narrated by Amik are beautiful. To learn that some of these phrases were borrowed from authentic Ojibwe sources--poems, stories, songs, etc--was fascinating. It made the book even "more authentic" than I originally thought. The narration of Rebecca Carver was equally researched. Pearsall read primary sources--diaries, books, letters, etc--from the time period to capture authentic language patterns and phrases of the whites as well. One source in particular that Pearsall used was an unpublished diary of a young girl named Emily Nash.

I had hoped to be reviewing another Carolyn Meyer book, Where The Broken Heart Still Beats, but I did not quite get it finished in time. Hopefully, I'll get it finished by tomorrow. Regardless, Crooked River and Where the Broken Heart Still Beats work well together as historical fiction novels examining the interaction of pioneering white settlers and Native Americans. Both share a sympathetic young girl character, Rebecca in Crooked River, and Lucy in Where The Heart Still Beats, that is able to connect and interact in a way that no one else can.


Post a Comment

I'm always happy to hear from you! To help fight spam, comment moderation has been set up for posts older than two days. Feel free to ask me questions or ask for recommendations!

Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
5) I do not guarantee that I will get to your book immediately. I've got so many books I'm trying to read and review, I can't promise to get to any one book in a given time frame.
6) Emailing me every other week to see if I've read your book won't help me get to it any faster. Though if you want to email me to check and see if it arrived safely, then that's fine!

Authors, publishers. I am interested in interviewing authors and participating in blog tours. (All I ask is that I receive a review copy of the author's latest book beforehand so the interview will be productive. If the book is part of a series, I'd like to review the whole series.) Contact me if you're interested.

Unique Visitors and Google PR Rank

Free PageRank Checker

My Blog List

(Old) Challenge Participants

Becky's Hosting These Challenges

100 Books Project: Fill in the Gaps

Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

  © Blogger template Newspaper III by 2008

Back to TOP