cover image Bohemian Girl

Bohemian Girl

Terese Svoboda. Univ. of Nebraska, $14.95 trade paper (208p) ISBN 978-0-8032-2682-1

At the onset of the Civil War, in "the Christian Year of Our Lord 1861," a 12-year-old girl meets a bitter fate when her father loans her to an elderly Pawnee Indian to settle a debt. That the debt came from losing a foot race to the mouth of a river "too thick to drink, too thin to plow" only makes matters worse. The girl joins other slaves and indentured servants who do an Indian Mound builder's work, spending their days hobbled, crafting heaps of sand, clay, and bone. But when she realizes that the Indian has no intention of releasing her as promised, she frees herself from her rawhide ties and heads east in search of her family. Calling herself Harriet, she narrates her grim odyssey in a poetic, convincing, but relentless voice. Still, Harriet's observations of the world and her small place in it are insightful and often touching. And Svoboda (Trailer Girl and Other Stories) often displays a poet's touch with language and imagery. Part of the University of Nebraska's Flyover Fiction series, edited by Ron Hansen. (Sept.)