cover image A JOURNEY OF FAITH


Kristiana Gregory, . . Scholastic, $4.99 (213pp) ISBN 978-0-439-43991-6

Gregory, an author of historical novels and of historical series fiction (Five Smooth Stones: Hope's Revolutionary War Diary), brings in religious themes with the debut of a projected four-book Prairie River series, which begins in Missouri at the time of Lincoln's assassination. Nessa Clemens is about to turn 14—the age at which she will be turned out of the orphanage. The head of the orphanage has arranged for her to marry the Reverend McDuff ("The Lord told me you're to be my bride," the minister tells Nessa), but Nessa can't help wondering why God would have spoken to Reverend McDuff about it and not to her. After praying for guidance, she runs away, taking the next stagecoach, which is bound for Prairie River, a small, untamed Kansas outpost on the Santa Fe Trail. Gregory captures the spirit of adventure as it sweeps up the settlers, and she presents Nessa's faith in terms of her grappling with religious issues, not necessarily having ready answers. Nessa and her friends quote Scripture, but unlike the girls in The Personal Correspondence... (reviewed above), their familiarity with their faith accompanies individual character development. A sturdy offering; to be joined in December by the next installment, A Grateful Harvest. Ages 8-13. (July)