The Lynching of Louie Sam
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The Lynching of Louie Sam

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  59 ratings  ·  18 reviews
Fifteen-year-old George Gillies lives in the Washington Territory in the late 1800s, where white settlers have an uneasy relationship with the indigenous people living there. When a local man is found murdered, suspicion falls on Louie Sam, a young member of the Stó:lō tribe. George and his best friend, Pete, follow a lynch mob north into Canada, where the terrified boy is...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published June 21st 2012 by Annick Press
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What a dynamic book this was. The story was engrossing and fascinating on many fronts. First, the author sucked me in with the historical perspective of the story. I had never heard of this incredibly sad story of the murder of a 13 year old boy due to mob action and that is where the sadness simply begins. Ms. Stewart slowly, methodically and masterfully unwrapped the storyline to show something much more sinister that was going on in this small town being careful to keep the gut wrenching and...more
"According to the Tuskegee Institute of Alabama, between 1882 and 1968, there were 4,742 lynchings in the United States. In Canada during the same period, there was one - the lynching of Louie Sam."

The Lynching of Louis Sam, although fiction, is based on a true story. Most of the facts in this book are taken from the records and from the documentary of the same name. They are as follows:

In 1884, near Nooksack, in the Washington Territory, a storekeeper named James Bell was murdered and his home...more
Edward Sullivan
A powerful story based upon real events about racism and scapegoating. Between 1882 and 1968, there were 4,742 lynchings in the United States. In Canada during the same period, there was one - the lynching of Louie Sam, a fifteen-year-old Native American accused of murdering a white man. This story is told through the eyes of a fifteen-year-old boy who witnesses the lynching and whose father takes part in the vigilante party. A compelling, well-told story.

This story, set in Washington State, describes an injustice involving the framing and murder of a fourteen-year-old Native American for a crime committed by someone else. Louie Sam had apparently been in the wrong place at the wrong time when Jim Bell was killed. The settlers quickly form a posse and head north to Canada to see that "justice" is done. Tribal authorities had already surrendered the boy to the local sheriff so he could stand trial, but that never happened. The vigilantes lynched h...more
Great story, based on a true event, set in WA state before statehood. Told from the point of few of the oldest boy of six children in a hardworking mill owner's family. When a neighbor is murdered many of the townsmen cast blame on a local Indian boy who was seen near his cabin. The posse finds and lynches him. George Gillies has doubts about the justice of this act and, the more he learns, feels the need to set things right. His voice rings true and describes the difficulty of making unpopular...more
Jordan Cummings
This book told the story of the historical lynching of a Native American on Canadian soil. This story is about 15 year old George Gillie, and his journey of becoming his own self. George follows a mob of white men to lynch Louie Sam, a Native American who was being accused of killing a white man. George felt conflicted after witnessing the lynching because he realized Louie Sam was falsely accused.

This book had a lot of potential to address social justice issues, along with other cultural and ra...more
Scott MacMartin
This book is a bit slow to start, and feels contrived in the early stages as the details around the historical lynching are played out.

But after the lynching, the book becomes intense and involving. Each character is caught between the truth and their involvement in the posse (either as an active participant, passive participant, or with knowledge even if they did not go to the hanging)

It is astonishing how Elizabeth Stuart pulls out how strongly a group behavior, like a lynching, blocks the tru...more
When I bought this book, I didn't realize it was a Young Adult novel (apparently the used book store I bought it at didn't either), which confused me a little in the beginning. Once I realized my mistake and shifted my expectations, I found myself really enjoying this novel.

The Lynching of Louie Sam tells the story of a young white settler named George in the United States who finds the murdered body of another settler, and gets caught up with the mob from his village that seeks "justice." Of co...more
We all like to think that we are good people, that given the choice of standing up for someone very different from us who is in desperate need or joining in with our peers who are causing their need, we would do the right thing. But throughout history there were a litany of people who just stood by and let bad things happen. “The Lynching of Louie Sam” is likely the story of just such an event.

It’s 1884 in the Washington territory and the settlers in more remote parts of the territory stick clos...more
Stewart, E. (2012). The lynching of Louie Sam. Toronto, ON: Annick Press Ltd.
Fifteen year old Washington Territory citizen, George stumbles upon a cabin in flames and in the process of rescuing the owner discovers that he has been murdered. In the hysteria that follows, a fourteen year old Canadian aboriginal boy is lynched and the town of Nooksack is thrown into the maelstrom; who will crack the town’s secret and right the wrongs that have been done in the name of justice?
This work of historica...more
Book Review originally published here:

The book is based upon a true story, which makes it more intriguing, and sad too. While I found Louie Sam an interesting character, and I enjoyed getting to know his world and customs, I wasn’t to impressed with the writing. Could’ve been better. The ending was dissapointing and provided little closure.
Based on an apparent true story this tale enters the dark world of racism in both Canada and the US. The tale is told from a child's point of view and demonstrates that while many feel the horror of racism, they are powerless against it. The cunning and corruption in this novel are truly scary. You can't help but hate adults almost in general while reading this novel, which pulls you into the voiceless horror of children trying to will change the world.
Grade: B

Overall, The Lynching of Louie Sam was a satisfactory read. I think what drag the grade down for me was George's character and the confusion about his age. I had to remind myself too many times that George was 15 years old and not 12 years old. It doesn't seem like a big thing but subject matter that is dealt with in the book it is important. While the writing was solid, it wasn't quite as strong as I would have like it to been. The research and historical facts is what saved The Lynchin...more
Fine mystery for teens focusing on the lynching of an Indigenous teen in British Columbia in 1884 by a group of vigilantes from Washington - Stewart does an excellent job at not only giving readers a sense of the racism that was so deeply embedded in the minds of frontiersmen but balances this with portraits of First Nations characters who clearly are not stereotypical - a moving novel indeed
Powerful story of injustice when Louis Sam a 14 year old native boy is hung by a lunch mob for the murder of James Bell. The Americans cross the Washington- British Columbia border and hang the young Native boy. George Gillies , narrates the story and tries to find evidence to show who the real murderer was. Along with George as a reader you hope justice will prevail but you realize what a terrible tragedy happened. The Gillies family is isolated for trying to find justice. Students will hopeful...more
Sean Kottke
The title refers to the only recorded lynching on Canadian soil, and takes place very early in the novel, soon after teen George Gillies and his siblings discover a murdered man in their village in the Washington Territory in 1884. To judge from the Afterward, the novel hews remarkably close to the historical record and weaves a classic coming of age narrative of an individual in conflict with his society, a la California Blue or a beautiful picture book my Aunt Mary created for my birthday one...more
I received a copy of The Lynching of Louie Sam by Elizabeth Stewart from NetGalley to review. Based on actual events, this fictionalized account put me in mind of a Mark Twain novel. The characters were richly drawn and the storyline tight. I believe it gave an accurate feel of the prejudice that existed at that time. It was an informative and enjoyable read. An excellent YA novel.
Shannon Hahn
A clear and unsettling picture of racism in the late 1800's. Stewart did an excellent job at creating a likeable narrator and one that the reader could "cheer" for. The pace was quick and I found myself wanting to read more. The only suggestion would be a bit more character development and some help as a reader in keeping all of the "key players" straight.
This book is sad because he was killed for nothing and they pointed fingers at Louie Sam
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Elizabeth Stewart is a screenwriter, television producer, and novelist.

Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.
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