Louann Gaeddert, Author, Jean Karl, Editor Atheneum Books $14 (160p) ISBN 978-0-689-80128-0
This historical novel about a Shaker community in the mid-19th century is strong on ambience but short on plot and character development. Hope's mother has died and it's been more than a year since anyone has heard from her father, prospecting for gold out West. A callous uncle deposits Hope and her younger brother, John, with the Shakers, who welcome orphans and abandoned children. Gaeddert (Breaking Free) uses the children's reactions to dramatize the salient features of Shaker life. Hope, the main character, chafes at the strict rules and the strange customs, especially resenting the total separation of the sexes that prevents her from even talking with her brother. John, meanwhile, thrives on the Shakers' evident love and is thrilled to be taught woodworking. A year goes by-allowing Gaeddert to describe a full range of Shaker holidays-but neither Hope's nor John's feelings change. When they at last hear from their father (whose previous attempts to contact them, it emerges, were foiled by their uncle), Hope chooses to join him while John stays with the Shakers. Despite the author's attempts to turn the children's decisions into a climactic moment, there's never much tension, just finely wrought period details. Ages 8-12. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/02/1995
Release date: 10/01/1995
Genre: Children's
Paperback - 160 pages - 978-0-689-80382-6
Prebound-Other - 978-0-613-02143-2
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