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The Ransom of Mercy Carter

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  1,612 Ratings  ·  147 Reviews
Deerfield, Massachusetts is one of the most remote, and therefore dangerous, settlements in the English colonies. In 1704 an Indian tribe attacks the town, and Mercy Carter becomes separated from the rest of her family, some of whom do not survive. Mercy and hundreds of other settlers are herded together and ordered by the Indians to start walking. The grueling journey -- ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published November 12th 2002 by Laurel Leaf (first published September 1st 2000)
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Bridgette Redman
Feb 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
It surprises me sometimes how very violent and graphic young adult stories can be. Books such as The Ransom of Mercy Carter is one of those novels that would have to be sanitized in order to escape an R rating if it were made into a movie.

And to sanitize such a book would be to take away the point of it. As much as I might hesitate to recommend to a sensitive young child a book that describes scalpings in detail and the sound of a tomahawk hitting a skull, I also appreciate that Caroline Cooney
Anne Osterlund
Sep 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Mercy is a child, just old enough to care for her four brothers and a sister. Then the Indians come, different tribes recruited by the French to wage war on the Puritan community of Deerfield, MA. The Indians' mission: to capture the children and march them clear to Canada. In the dead of winter.

Mercy is determined to survive. First for her younger sister, Mara. And after Mara’s death, for the boy, Daniel. And then . . .

Mercy must survive for herself. And strangely for the family that cares for
Mar 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I have learned to be cautious about books featuring Native Americans written by non-Natives, and I don't know enough to judge this one on that basis, however Caroline Cooney has written a fascinating story about a young "English" girl who is captured by Native Americans. Her struggle with her identity is heart-wrenching at times, and hard to put down. In an author's note at the end, Cooney gives the reader documentation about historical figures that are featured in the story, including many of t ...more
Dec 30, 2016 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This was definitely an interesting read.

Years ago I read the Dear America book that covered this topic (Standing in the Light), and so I already knew the general topic and direction the book was going in- namely, that the captive children would be assimilated into the tribe's culture and society and would not come home.

I will say, though, that if you have read that book and are coming to this one- this book is a much more mature take on the subject of captive children being assimilated into Nati
Sep 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
Mercy Carter along with others from her town are kidnapped by the Indians and are taken from their New England home to Canada. There the captives are divided up some to the French and others go to the Indians. Mercy is sent to the Indians. She at frist tries to remain true to her family and Purtain ways. Mercy holds out for the hope of being ransom but, as months drag by and she gets use to the Indian ways she finds it harder and harder to resist the lure of their kindness to her and tempetion t ...more
Emily Feng
Another historical fiction book that could have made it far...Cooney's writing lacks a lot of the depth I look for in a well-planned novel. Try reading this book and then Goddess of Yesterday. Both are only mediocre in their writing and light-hearted entertainment, at best. Mercy really started to get on my nerves a few chapters in and I didn't feel as if her development was all too significant. I didn't leave the pages with any appreciation for her journey. Mercy is consistent in delivering act ...more
Jessica Broockerd
May 09, 2012 added it
Recommends it for: young adults, girls
Jessica Broockerd
Historical Fiction

Young Mercy Carter, along with many children from her town of Deerfield, MA, are taken in an Indian raid and forced to march the long trails into Canada. Mercy, along with a few others, are adopted by a tribe of Indians who live along a river fairly close to a French settlement, while others are given to French families or the convent. Mercy writes in her journal about the hardships in her new life, her eventual adaptation to her new life, and the feelings and
Lori Kircher
Feb 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
5/5 stars. Another amazing Caroline B. Cooney book. I loved it. This novel may be marketed at a young audience but if Carey's strong adult themes; such as family, your place in the world, morality, making choices and friends. I would have finished this book much earlier but life got in the way. The character of Mercy Carter was very strong and independent. She had to struggle through many hardships, and over them. Also, this is based on a true story. There are two pages at the end of the books t ...more
Aug 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Mercy Carter is an 11 year old English settler who, along with her whole town, has been taken prisoner by Native Americans. Through her eyes we see how everyone is treated and what she is thinking about her abduction and how she slowly grows to accept and even care for her new Native Family after they adopt her. I enjoy reading books about or involving Native Americans although I usually prefer to read the ones set before the English and other European settlers came, this one was written finely ...more
Aug 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
An interesting historical novel based upon a true story concerning the kidnapping of an entire village of mostly children with some women and a handful of men by an Indian tribe during the 1600's. Interesting piece of not-well-known history of the relations between the French and Indians in the early history of the U.S.
Mary JL
Dec 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone of any age interested in a good story.
This is an excellent historical fiction novel based on a real event. The characters are very well done--I have read other books by Caroline Cooney and she really tells a good tale.

It would be appropriate for any reader--boy or girl--from age 11 up.
Claudia McCarron
Every time I read this, something new pops out at me. This time it was Mercy: What a gutsy, courageous character she is, and her huge capacity for forgiveness and survival. I felt how conflicted she was, and the pain her choices caused her. So good.
Dec 22, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: indios
OK -- at best. I don't like when the author repeats the person's name over and over, on every single page; in this case, Mercy. I consider that no better than a filler. True story or not, it's elementary and borderline boring.
Nov 24, 2015 rated it liked it
Like I said, have to read this for school -_-. It was pretty boring until the end, which was pretty interesting I guess. Hopefully will be able to read more soon
May 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Written for teens/young adults, this book explores the very confused feelings and difficult decisions of a girl captured by the Native Americans and French in 1704. Mercy is only 11 at the time of her capture, but she comes from a Puritan family and thinks deeply about how God views her situation and her changing feelings about the people who have taken her in as their own.
Aug 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Not bad. Kind of predictable.
Elizabeth Gondek
Mar 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I thought it was very interesting and very heartbreaking at times. It was worth the couple hours spent reading it.
Mar 07, 2017 rated it liked it
I enjoy historical fiction about kids who were taken from the frontier and esentially adopted into Native American tribes. This story was impressive because not only did the French and Indians take a large number of captives, they marched them 300 miles through the wilderness into Canada. I think this book would be good for both middle and upper grade readers who are interested in history and/or Native Americans.
Melissa Ratter
Mar 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I loved this historical book. I felt engulfed in the writing and story from the beginning and it kept my attention until the end! I recommend this book to everyone!
Danielle Choffrey
Jun 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Somehow I never read this while I was in school. I remember owning a copy and even hearing of other people reading and enjoying it, but it was just one of those books that I never got around to picking up. I am sad I never read it when I was younger. I feel like the experience may have had more of an impact on someone just learning about that era. Now that I am old I have read a ton of literature and studied that era for years. The book ended up being a great story. And what adds to the story is ...more
Dec 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Read this for book club and I can't wait for the discussion!

There are so many interesting elements in this 'based on real life story' - so fascinating!

What would I do if I lived in the 1700's, in a new country (that wasn't fully established) and was kidnapped by Native Americans after watching them break into my home, burn my town and kill so many; including part of my family? To never see your parents or siblings again? And when the opportunity came to leave the people you've grown to love - w
Nov 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
Genre: Historical Fiction

Rating: **** Based on actual events, this fascinating story takes the reader from Deerfield, Massachusetts to a Kahnawake Indian village in Canada. It is not a difficult read (Reading Level 5.2, Lexile 730), but it is rich in content.

Summary: It is 1704 in Deerfield, Massachusetts, which is one of the most remote English settlements. An Indian tribe, along with French soldiers, attack Deerfield. Many of the Puritan settlers are killed, while others are taken hostage. Me
Apr 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Eleven-year-old Mercy Carter lives with her family in Deerfield, Massachusetts, the most remote settlement in the English colonies in 1704. Although life in Deerfield is both difficult and dangerous, with countless chores for even the youngest child and the constant threat of Indian attacks, Mercy takes comfort in her family and her faith. But even her prayers are not enough to save many settlers from brutal deaths at the hands of the Indians, and they aren't enough to save Mercy, who is among t ...more
The Ransom of Mercy Carter was well-written and a thoroughly enjoyable read. There was only two issues I had with it. First, there were so many characters introduced so quickly that it was though to keep track of some of them, especially the captives from Deerfield. My second issue was that it read a lot like any other book of a similar story line. I've read several middle grade books about Native tribes taking English settlers captive and they are all a lot alike.
Rene Espinoza
Nov 19, 2012 rated it it was ok
The book is set in 1704 Massachusetts in an English Colony. One day, an Indian Tribe attacks the town. Some people are captured by the Indians, one of those people was Mercy Carter. Mercy thinks that the English government will pay to have them rescued soon enough. Soon doesn't come fast enough, days turn into months and Mercy and other white colonists are still living with the Native Americans. By that time, Mercy realizes these people aren't as savage as they are made out to be. She then start ...more
Nov 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I love how these characters come to live when you read this. Even though this book may look boring on the outside, but never judge a book by its cover! It's extremely a beautiful and touching book, which bring tears to my eyes. The exciting book will bring you heart warming experience and you read how tough live can be, and how people can overcome it with love and compassion for others. Additionally, this book also talks about how your family can die in one day, how your world can change in a sp ...more
Dec 03, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya-lit-2011-2012
This historical fiction novel makes the reader think about assimilation and family. Set in 1704 and based on true events this novel begins with the kidnapping of many of the residents of Deerfield, Massachusetts by a group of Native Americans who were aided by the French. Among those taken and not killed is Mercy Carter, an eleven year old girl. The story follows Mercy as she hike with her captors to Canada. Along the way Mercy is left to deal with her thoughts. Will she be ransomed? Will she
Leslie Hernandez
Mar 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Tough. Life. Death. The book "The Ransom of Mercy Carter" by Caroline B. Cooney can be described in those three words. Mercy and her family lived in Deerfield, Massachusetts. February 28, 1704 changed all of Deerfield's life. That day everyone is kidnapped by Indians. The Indians are taking them to Canada and to get there, they all have to walk three hundred miles north to get to Kahnawake (Indian village in Canada). That is harsh because little children, mothers-to-be, sick children, etc have ...more
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Fiction 1 4 Jan 24, 2013 02:30PM  
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Caroline Cooney knew in sixth grade that she wanted to be a writer when "the best teacher I ever had in my life" made writing her main focus. "He used to rip off covers from The New Yorker and pass them around and make us write a short story on whichever cover we got. I started writing then and never stopped!"
When her children were young, Caroline started writing books for young people -- with rem
More about Caroline B. Cooney...
October 1704
Temperature 55 degrees

Eben was looking at Sarah in the way every girl prays some boy will one day look at her. “I will marry you, Sarah,” said Eben. “I will be a good husband. A Puritan husband. Who will one day take us both back home.”
Wind shifted the lace of Sarah’s gown and the auburn of one loose curl.
“I love you, Sarah,” said Eben. “I’ve always loved you.”
Tears came to Sarah’s eyes: she who had not wept over her own family. She stood as if it had not occurred to her that she could be loved; that an English boy could adore her. “Oh, Eben!” she whispered. “Oh, yes, oh, thank you, I will marry you. But will they let us, Eben? We will need permission.”
“I’ll ask my father,” said Eben. “I’ll ask Father Meriel.”
They were not touching. They were yearning to touch, they were leaning forward, but they were holding back. Because it is wrong? wondered Mercy. Or because they know they will never get permission?
“My French family will put up a terrible fuss,” said Sarah anxiously. “Pierre might even summon his fellow officers and do something violent.”
Eben grinned. “Not if I have Huron warriors behind me.”
The Indians rather enjoyed being French allies one day and difficult neighbors the next. Lorette Indians might find this a fine way to stab a French soldier in the back without drawing blood.
They would need Father Meriel. He could arrange anything if he chose; he had power among all the peoples. But he might say no, and so might Eben’s Indian family.
Mercy translated what was going on for Nistenha and Snow Walker. “They want to get married,” she told them. “Isn’t it wonderful?” She couldn’t help laughing from the joy and the terror of it. Ransom would no longer be the first word in Sarah’s heart. Eben would be. Mercy said, “Eben asked her right here in the street, Snow Walker. He wants to save her from marriage to a French soldier she doesn’t want. He’s loved Sarah since the march.”
The two Indians had no reaction. For a moment Mercy thought she must have spoken to them in English. Nistenha turned to walk away and Snow Walker turned with her.
If Nistenha was not interested in Sarah and Eben’s plight, no Indian would be.
Mercy called on her memory of every speech in every ceremony, every dignified phrase and powerful word. “Honored mother,” she said softly. “Honored sister. We are in need and we beg you to hear our petition.”
Nistenha stopped walking, turned back and stared at her in amazement. Sarah and Eben and Snow Walker stared at her in amazement.
Sam can build canoes, thought Mercy. I can make a speech. “This woman my sister and this man my brother wish to spend their lives together. My brother will need the generous permission of his Indian father. Already we know that my sister will be refused the permission of her French owners. We will need an ally to support us in our request. We will need your strength and your wisdom. We beseech you, Mother, that you stand by us and help us.”
The city of Montreal swirled around them.
Eben, property of an Indian father in Lorette; Sarah, property of a French family in Montreal; and Mercy, property of Tannhahorens, awaited her answer.
“Your words fill me with pride, Munnunock,” said Nistenha softly. She reached into her shopping bundle. Slowly she drew out a fine French china cup, undoubtedly meant for the feast of Flying Legs. She held it for a moment, and then her stern face softened and she gave it to Eben.
Indians sealed a promise with a gift.
She would help them.
From her bundle, Snow Walker took dangling silver earrings she must have bought for Mercy and handed them to Sarah.
Because she knew that Sarah’s Mohawk was not good enough and that Eben was too stirred to speak, Mercy gave the flowery thanks required after such gifts.
“God bless us,” she said to Sarah and Eben, and Eben said, “He has.”
August 1704
Temperature 75 degrees

“It’s me! Mercy Carter! Oh, Mr. Williams! Do you have news?” She flung herself on top of him. Oh, his beautiful beard! The beard of a real father, not a pretend Indian father or a French church father. “My brothers,” she begged. “John and Sam and Benny. Have you seen them? Have you heard anything about them? Do you know what happened to the little ones? Daniel? Have you found Daniel?”
Mercy had forgotten that she had taken off her tunic to go swimming. That Joseph did not even have on his breechclout. That Mercy wore earrings and Joseph had been tattooed on his upper arms. That they stank of bear.
Mr. Williams did not recognize Joseph, and Mercy he knew only by the color of her hair. He was stupefied by the two naked slimy children trying to hug him. In ore horror than even Ruth would have mustered, he whispered, “Your parents would be weeping. What have the savages done to you? You are animals.” Despair and shock mottled Mr. Williams’s face.
Mercy stumbled back from him. Her bear grease stained his clothing.
“Mercy,” he said, turning away from her, “go cover yourself.”
Shame covered her first. Red patches flamed on her cheeks. She ran back to the swimmers, fighting sobs. She was aware of her bare feet, hard as leather from no shoes. Savage feet.
Dear Lord in Heaven, thought Mercy, Ruth is right. I have committed terrible sins. My parents would be weeping.
She did not look at Snow Walker but yanked on the deerskin tunic. She had tanned the hide herself, and she and Nistenha had painted the rows of turtles around the neckline and Nistenha had tied tiny tinkling French bells into the fringe. But it was still just animal skin. To be wearing hides in front of Mr. Williams was not much better than being naked.
Snow Walker burst out of the water. “The white man? Was he cruel? I will call Tannhahorens.”
No! Tannhahorens would not let her speak to Mr. Williams. She would never find out about her brothers; never redeem herself in the minister’s eyes. Mercy calmed down with the discipline of living among Indians. Running had shown weakness. “Thank you, Snow Walker,” she said, striving to be gracious, “but he merely wanted me to be clothed like an English girl. There is no need to call Tannhahorens.” She walked back.
On the jetty, Joseph stood with his eyes fixed on the river instead of on his minister. He had not fled like Mercy to cover himself. He was standing his ground. “They aren’t savages, Mr. Williams. And they aren’t just Indians. Those children over there are Abenaki, the boy fishing by the rocks is Pennacook, and my own family is Kahnawake Mohawk.”
Tears sprang into Mr. Williams’s eyes. “What do you mean--your family?” he said. “Joseph, you do not have a family in this terrible place. You have a master. Do not confuse savages who happen to give you food with family.
Joseph’s face hardened. “They are my family. My father is Great Sky. My mother--”
The minister lost his temper. “Your father is Martin Kellogg,” he shouted, “with whom I just dined in Montreal. You refer to some savage as your father? I am ashamed of you.”
Under his tan, Joseph paled and his Indian calm left him. He was trembling. “My--my father? Alive? You saw him?”
“Your father is a field hand for a French family in Montreal. He works hard, Joseph. He has no choice. But you have choices. Have you chosen to abandon your father?”
Joseph swallowed and wet his lips. “No.” He could barely get the syllable out.
Don’t cry, prayed Mercy. Be an eagle. She fixed her eyes upon him, giving him all her strength, but Mr. Williams continued to destroy whatever strength the thirteen-year-old possessed.
“Your father prays for the day you and he will be ransomed, Joseph. All he thinks of is the moment he can gather his beloved family back under his own roof. Is that not also your prayer, Joseph?”
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