Dan Rogers's Reviews > Crooked River

Crooked River by Shelley Pearsall
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Nov 11, 11

Read from October 30 to November 09, 2011

This Historical Fiction book by Shelley Pearsall was quite interesting and enjoyable to read. Rebecca Carver, a 13 year old girl lives in a one room cabin with her Pa, her sisters Laura (age 17) and Mercy (age 3), brothers Lorenzo (age 11) and Amos (age 19), and cousin George (age 21?). As you might expect, living on the edge of the frontier, the settlers of this small community encounter Native Americans quite often. As the story begins the men of the village have arrested a Native American for murder and imprisoned him in the loft of the Carver's cabin until the judge can arrive to hold a trial. Over the course of the next several weeks Rebecca gets to know the Native American quite well as she is the one who brings meals up to him every day. As she comes to know Indian John, the name the villagers have given him, she learns that not everything is quite as it seems. We also meet Peter Kelley, friend of Indian John, and now also his Defense Attorney. As Kelley pays several visits to the Carver house (always when Pa is not around) it appears that Laura is taking a liking to this handsome young man. Will Laura and Peter fall in love? What will happen to Indian John? How will Rebecca's life be different after all of this is over?

An interesting theme that is carried through the entire book is mankind's prejudice against minorities. Two of the most evident ways in which the author shows this are in the way that Pa treats Laura and Rebecca (men vs. women) and how the townspeople think and feel about Indian John and other natives in the area. These feelings are also exhibited towards Peter Kelley. Even though he is a white male he is threatened and verbally abused by others simply because he has chosen to see that Indian John gets a good defense and a fair trial. As I think about this theme it saddens me to know that things are not really any different today. We, humans, are still prejudiced against those who are different than us or whose ways of doing things we don't agree with and/or don't understand.

This is quite an enjoyable book for fans of Historical Fiction and/or Mystery. The author has done a wonderful job of keeping you engaged in the story throughout as she not only gives you insight into the life of the Carver family, but also sprinkled throughout the book are short 1-2 page insights into the thoughts of Indian John. I was quite surprised, and pleased, by the way the story ended for all the main characters, Indian John, Peter Kelley, and Rebecca Carver. To fully understand the history behind this story be sure to read the Author's comments at the conclusion of the book. At 244 pages this should be an easy read in a relatively short period of time.
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