Trudy Krisher, Author . Holiday $17.95 (263p) ISBN 978-0-8234-1791-9

Krisher's (Spite Fences ) historical novel begins in 1837, shortly after a stable fire has killed six residents of Millbrook, Mass. Brief monologues by 10 surviving townspeople convey the general mood of sad bewilderment while introducing different attitudes common to the period, among them different religious responses. At first, readers may need to refer frequently to the chart of "Families of Millbrook" at the front of the book in order to keep the relationships straight, but connections among characters become clearer as the story focuses on rebellious Faith Common, the daughter of a Methodist minister. Unlike many of her demure female acquaintances and her own soft-spoken, charitable mother, Faith cannot remain submissive or silent when she witnesses acts of injustice. Her battle for women's and African-Americans' rights tests her parents' patience, infuriates conservatives and causes many townsfolk to sit up and take notice. Privately shared by others in the community, Faith's views gradually stir winds of change in Millbrook. A chauvinistic schoolmaster gets his comeuppance, a cheating merchant is pressured to treat his female workers and customers with more respect, and bounty hunters searching for runaway slaves are outwitted. As Krisher relays the awakening of a sleepy town, her blend of voices may not always be harmonious, but it is invariably involving. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 11/10/2003
Release date: 11/01/2003
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