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The Many Reflections of Miss Jane Deming

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  335 ratings  ·  86 reviews
High-spirited young Jane is excited to be part of Mr. Mercer’s plan to bring Civil War widows and orphans to Washington Territory—but life out west isn’t at all what she expected.

Washington Territory is just the place for men of broad mind and sturdy constitution—and girls too, Jane figures, or Mr. Mercer wouldn’t have allowed her to come on his expedition to bring unmarri
Kindle Edition, 288 pages
Published February 28th 2017 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
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3.95  · 
Rating details
 ·  335 ratings  ·  86 reviews

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C. L.
Feb 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Yeah, this nailed it. A frontier book about expectations -- both realistic and unrealistic -- as well as the meaning of "broadening" one's mind and the meaning of family, this story gives no easy answers to any of the above, while also giving hope to the many definitions of personal growth. The main character is sweet and likable, the writing is excellent, and the historical setting is enthralling. Exactly right. Highly recommended.
I probably wouldn't have picked this up without the local connection (Washington Territory!), but I'm very glad I did. It's one of those too rare books that manages to be realistic without being bleak. Jane's life was hard and sad things happened, but that's not all there is to the story!

Worth reading.
Brandy Painter
Originally posted here at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.

J. Anderson Coats' debut novel, The Wicked and the Just, is one of my go to recommendations for historical fiction. When I discovered she had a new MG book coming out this year, I couldn't wait to read it despite being unsure of whether the premise would work for me or not. It completely did though. The Many Reflections of Miss Jane Deming is excellent.

Jame Deming is not living her ideal life. Her father was killed in the Civil War and sh
laurel [suspected bibliophile]
The last thing Jane's father asked her to do was to get her leavening certificate from school so that she could broaden her mind. But after his death in Vicksburg, Jane is pulled out of school to take care of her baby brother and do all the housework while her stepmother works fourteen hours a day at the mill.

Then an incredible offer comes through—move all the way across the country to the Washington Territory, where the beaches are sandy, the weather amazing, banks and shops and jobs abound, pr
Mar 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jane is a great role model and her story is well told. I highly recommend this book.
Jun 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Heidi
The aftermath of the Civil War means widows, and the Pacific Northwest needs settling. Mr. Asa Mercer offers a chance to start over to the widows of Lowell, Massachusetts. A boat ride around Cape Horn, some minor discomfort, and then the promised land. Palm trees, blue skies, wealthy bachelors, and the wonderful city of Seattle all await Jane Deming's stepmother, who hates the mills. Jane, 11 years old, wouldn't mind the chance to go to school, make new friends, and not be poor and have to take ...more
3.5+ stars
Miss Jane Deming late of Lowell, Massachusetts is on her way to Washington Territory with her stepmother (Papa always said steps are for stairs) and 2-year-old brother, Jer as part of Asa Mercer's bride ship expedition. Mrs. D hopes to find a wealthy banker to marry so she can keep house and not work in the mills. Jane wants time for herself since she's been looking after Jer since he was born. The one thing she really wants from Washington Territory is school. When Jane was forced to
Connie D
This is a charming little novel about a girl whose stepmother (a young widow) has booked them onto the Mercer Girl ship to Seattle (of "Here Come the Brides" fame) so she can find a prosperous husband. It's not a romantic novel,'s more of a survival story. What are the options for women or girls left on their own in those days?

Life in 1865 Lowell, Massachusetts was certainly grim for Jane, her stepmother and her little brother, but will the fantasy of a perfect life in Seattle come t
Nov 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
A delightful historical fiction story set in Washington territory with a spunky girl named Jane. Jane embarks on a journey with her 22 year old step-mom and 2 year old brother. They take a steam ship around the world to get to Seattle. Along the way she seeks to broaden her mind, something she promised her father to do. What she realizes is that there are different ways to do that, and her expectations and reality might not match up. There is humor, adventure, and new relationships. I laughed wh ...more
Aug 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this historical account of the Washington territory. Strong, young female protagonist and flawless writing.
Jul 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Coming-of-age, homesteading, historical fiction… One of my favorite kinds of books and so well done!
Ms. Yingling
Mar 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Public Library Copy.

Jane lives in Massachusetts with her young stepmother and stepbrother after her father is killed in the Civil War. She hasn't been able to go to school because she must watch Jer while her stepmother works in the mills. When a Mr. Mercer offers passage to Seattle Washington for orphan girls and young widows, the group undergoes the arduous journey to get there. A highlight for Jane is being asked to help a teacher with her younger students. Seattle is not the bustling town fi
Jessica Brooks
Mar 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Review to come.
Tessa Joy
May 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
After losing her father in the Civil War, Jane Deming gives up her friends and schooling to raise her baby stepbrother while her young stepmother works in the mill. Unexpectedly Jane’s stepmother enlists the three of them in an expedition to bring unmarried women to Washington Territory. Using the expedition’s pamphlet as a textbook, Jane works on developing the social and educational skills needed for surviving in the Pacific Northwest. During their sea voyage, Jane’s stepmother tries to keep J ...more
Pernille Ripp
Nov 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this story and how easily it flowed. I can see many kids enjoying it once they settle into the story. This will be a book I booktalk in 2017
Hal Schrieve
Essentially, this book felt like a previously-unseen volume in the Dear America series I loved when I was seven, but watered down, with less impetus to address the real horrors that underlie so much of American history. The Kirkus review it received, which threw out phrases like "history before it was written by the victors" et cetera, made me believe that this short middle-grade book about the Pacific Northwest would undertake some serious reckoning with Indigenous genocide, human trafficking, ...more
Apr 10, 2018 rated it liked it
As a native Washingtonian and lover of historical fiction, I was excited to discover this book. Before I could read it, one of my students borrowed it, but she brought it back a couple of days later saying she was unable to get into it from the start as it was “boring.” Her assessment might actually mean it bored her, or it could be ‘code’ for a book that was difficult to follow or understand. I didn’t put much stock into her account until I set out to enjoy it for myself. But even with my adult ...more
Jul 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I found this book wildly appealing -- my inner history dork was delighted with the pacific NW slant, with the inclusion of Mercer's brides, even with the depiction of the textile mills in Lowell. I'm not entirely sure why I could not put it down (probably the excellent writing and pacing), but it kept me up late as I wanted to see the end of Jane's adventures. Love the plucky heroine, not least for growing during the book. Love the pragmatic depiction of the hardships many people faced in this t ...more
Marathon County Public Library

Jane’s father was killed in the Civil War leaving her stern stepmother, brother and herself almost penniless. Like many other war widows and their families seeking new husbands and a prosperous life, they board a ship to the west. Jane’s main job, since her father’s death and on the ship, is running after and caring for her little brother Jer. But she has dreams of going to a real school, learning new things, meeting new friends and a whole new interesting life for herself. But when they arrive

April Moody
May 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
High-spirited young Jane is excited to be part of Mr. Mercer’s plan to bring Civil War widows and orphans to Washington Territory—but life out west isn’t at all what she expected.

I loved this middle reader/historical fiction story. Jane's father passed away in the battles of the Civil War. Her step mother is determined that she will find a new husband and a better life in the Washington Territory. They join an expedition bringing unmarried girls and civil war widows out west. They travel from Ne
Jun 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I love historical fiction, and this book did not disappoint me in the least bit.
Jane Deming is such an easy character to want to cheer along the whole time, and as a reader, I grew connected with her to the point where her losses and triumphs became mine too. Her stepmother was so easy to hate, but she also felt realistic too, which is not always the case with antagonists in stories.
Jane's desire for an education, as well as her care for her young half-brother, Jer, was so refreshing and could
Chris Gifford
Jul 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Jane Deming's father has died at Vicksburg. Now she only has a stepmother that does not like her and a baby brother that she takes care of instead of going to school. Until her stepmother, Mrs. D decides to leave Massachusetts for Seattle Washington via sea voyage. Mrs. D is only 20 and as tough as a boot, stubborn too. She thinks that she will step off the boat and a banker will sweep her off her feet. Then she can take care of the house and he can go to work. There is no banker waiting, just o ...more
May 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Good historical fiction for young people is a joy to find, and a book about the Pacific Northwest is especially delightful for those of us who live in the area. Here we find Jane, a young lady, traveling to Seattle by ship with her stepmother and a group of the Mercer girls. Their difficulties and disappointments are depicted with fidelity to actual events. The hardships of frontier life are reflected with some delicacy and gentleness. When Jane's stepmother marries, the new family moves into hi ...more
Jane Deming, whose mother died when she was young and father died in the Battle of Vicksburg when she was 9, lives with her stepmother in Lowell, Massachusetts, after they were kicked out of their farmhouse by the bank. Jane's stepmother, Mrs. D, hates working long hours at the Lowell looms, and Jane misses going to school since she has to take care of her baby half brother Jer. Everything changes when they join Mr. Mercer and a group of young women and Civil War widows to settle in Seattle wher ...more
Jan 12, 2019 rated it liked it
historical fiction middle grade novel

It's about an orphaned girl, Jane, who is traveling with her little brother and young stepmother to start anew in the Washington Territory. She and her stepmother both have very high (yet different) expectations for what life in Seattle will be like for them. Jane treasures a pamphlet that gloriously describes Seattle. She has a passion for learning and getting an education. She writes her own life lessons or reflections in a handmade book that she also trea
Reading this story was such a good journey. I started out uncertain, because it wasn't quite what I had expected. About the first 100 pgs of the story entails Jane's travel from New York to Washington Territory (before it was Washington State) by ship. But part of Jane's personal development happens during that time.

Then she finally arrives in Seattle, and it's not at all what she was expecting, after reading a pamphlet a bumbling shyster had made to convince people on the East coast of the US
May 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Charming middle grade historical fiction set in post Civil War America. Jane Deming is technically an orphan, who spends her days taking care of her little half-brother at the behest of her demanding stepmother. The ladies are bound for Washington Territory, with Ms. D hoping to ensnare a wealthy bachelor to elevate the family from destitution. When they finally arrive, however, things are much more rustic than either lady had anticipated. When Ms. D finds a new husband, their lives will change ...more
Apr 03, 2018 rated it liked it
⭐⭐⭐/5. I really enjoyed this one, even though it would be a hard sell to students. Jane is a twelve-year-old living near Boston after the Civil War. Her widowed stepmother is promised a husband in the Washington Territory, so she packs up Jane and her own son Jer. They board a ship, and after a four month journey find themselves in a Seattle that seems to hold nothing they were promised. Jane shines as a character with perseverance, while her stepmother never really redeems herself (she’s straig ...more
Caitlynn  Comstock
The beautiful novel, The Many Reflections of Jane Deming, by J. Anderson Coats, tells a heart warming story of perseverance, triumph and friendship. Jane Deming is a young girl living with her widowed step-mother, Mrs. D, and her baby brother Jer, together they cross over into a new world. In this new world Jane feverishly searches for a place to belong, someone to be loved by and a person to love. Miss Deming grows and prospers through the many trials and tribulations of her new life.
I persona
Sometimes expectation and reality just don't match up. And sometimes the reality is something far different (and better) than what we expect. Eleven year old, Jane Deming launches into a journey from the looms of Lowell, New York to the wild frontier of Seattle and finds that her own strength and will to not only survive but to thrive far exceeds her expectations. Great historical fiction for upper elementary school readers--especially girls who're looking for adventure and strong (believable) f ...more
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J. Anderson Coats is the award-winning author of books for kids of all ages. She's received two Junior Library Guild awards and earned starred reviews from Kirkus, School Library Journal, the Horn Book Review, and Shelf Awareness. Her newest book is R is for Rebel, middle-grade novel about coercion and resistance in a reform school in a fictional occupied country.

The Wicked and the Just was one o