Rave Reviews Log: Historical Fiction

December 11, 2006

Blood on the River: James Town 1607

By Elisa Carbone
Period: early 1600's Virginia (Jamestown)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Noelle

Samuel Collier is an orphan who is taken to the New World from London with Captain John Smith to help rebuild the English colony of James Town. Samuel doesn't trust anyone and doesn't feel like he needs any friends, but John Smith begins to teach him that it will take everyone working together to make a go of it in the new colony. Through the horrible crossing of the Atlantic to the slow building of homes to the near starvation and sickness, Samuel manages to survive in James Town and learns to work with others. But soon it becomes clear that the most important friends to make are the Powhatan Indians, who number in the thousands, and could help them or massacre them at will. Captain John Smith understands the balance that needs to be struck, and trains Samuel in the Algonquian language, but other colonists are not so understanding. Again and again, the colonists face hardship. And some tribes within the Powhatan like their new neighbors, but others want them gone. Will the Powhatan come to their rescue again? Will a friendship with Pocahontas help save the colony? You may already know the history, but this well-written novel makes it all feel like a firsthand account of survival, betrayal, and learning to work and live together. A good read about the clash of cultures.

December 04, 2006


By D. Anne Love
Era: early 1960's Texas/Oklahoma
Rating: 3 3/4 stars
Reviewed by Noelle

Garnet and Opal are sisters living in small town Texas in the beginning of the 1960's. One day during the summer, the girls' mother decides to chase her dream of becoming a country singer in Nashville and packs the girls up and drops them off with their aunt in Oklahoma. With their father out of reach working in the Gulf of Mexico, the sisters find themselves stuck in an even smaller town with no phone, no tv, no parents, and are faced with being poor for the first time. Opal, at 14, is furious with her mother. Garnet, turning 13, is devastated at the abandonment and homesick for her old life. But as they are forced to adjust to a new school and town, Garnet learns that a part of growing up is letting go and allowing people to be who they are--not who you want them to be. This is an involving story about coming of age, and while it isn't full of action, it is full of meaning. Readers will find themselves easily engaged in the tale, and pulling for a happy ending.