cover image On Winter's Wind

On Winter's Wind

Patricia Hermes. Little Brown and Company, $15.95 (163pp) ISBN 978-0-316-35978-8

Eleven-year-old Gen and her younger sister, Leila, are struggling to pull each other through a harsh Massachusetts winter--their father, a sea captain, has been gone for three years, and his protracted absence is driving their mother toward a breakdown. With the household funds running dangerously low, Gen wonders just how far she might go to help the family. Would she turn in a runaway slave for a $100 bounty? When Gen lands a part-time job at the general store, she inadvertently discovers that its owner operates a stop on the Underground Railroad, and her hypothetical questions take on a new dimension. Her dilemma, however, is transparent--she's far too moral to deny an escaped slave his freedom. Nor is there much suspense about the father's eventual return, heralded in Leila's prophetic dreams. Hermes (Someone to Count On) weaves the historical backdrop admirably, but the conflicts here are trumped up. Ages 8-12. (Oct.)