From School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-Addie has a secret: her mother and brother have recently died of the flux. With her father on his way to California to pan for gold, the 13-year-old is determined to survive on her own until he returns. Fearful that the townswomen of Essex, MA, will find out that she is living alone, she concocts a plan to live in the wilderness as her father taught her. But it is the dead of winter, and Addie soon finds that survival is more difficult than she could have imagined. When Nokummus, a local Wampanoag woman who lives nearby, comes to help her, Addie discovers that this woman knows more about her and her past than she could have imagined, changing her life forever. This is a beautifully written story with deep characters and a strong sense of place. While the author sometimes panders to stereotypes-Nokummus is viewed as a wise woman, fearful of what will happen to her relationship with Addie when the girl's father returns-she is mostly spot-on with characters and the setting. However, Addie's relationship with a local boy feels strained and makes the girl seem older than she is. For the most part, though, this quiet, haunting book will appeal to fans of historical fiction.-Necia Blundy, Marlborough Public Library, MA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
It is 1849, and 12-year-old Addie is in shock—her father has left the family’s Massachusetts home to look for gold in California, and her mother and brother have just died from the much-feared flux. Typically, children in this predicament find themselves taken into the homes of strangers and often are abused or neglected, so Addie flees to the nearby woods (in spite of the snow) to try and survive on her own. But it’s harder than she thought to use the limited skills her father taught her, and so she is grateful for the help offered by Nokummus, an elderly Wampanoag woman, at least until Nokummus claims to be Addie’s grandmother. Collins’ sense of place, incorporation of cultural and historical details, and the richly evoked winter setting make for a vividly imagined novel. An engaging survival story intertwined with a search for identity, this tale is reminiscent of Jean Craighead George’s Julie of the Wolves (1972) yet clearly stands on its own as a lyrical piece of historical fiction. Grades 4-7. --Melissa Moore