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The Red Heart: A Novel Mass Market Paperback – September 28, 1998
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
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"COMPELLING...Thom has woven a story as carefully as any native weaver does a piece of fabric".
-- Indianapolis Star
From the Inside Flap
The Slocum family of Northeastern Pennsylvania are the best of the white settlers, peace-loving Quakers who believe that the Indians hold the Light of God inside. It is from this good-hearted family that Frances is abducted during the Revolutionary war.
As the child's terror subsides, she is slowly drawn into the sacred work and beliefs of her adoptive mother and of all the women of these Eastern tribes. Frances becomes Maconakwa, the Little Bear Woman of the Miami Indians. Then, long after the Indians are beaten and their last hope, Tecumseh, is killed, the Slocums hear word of their long-lost daughter and head out to Indiana to meet their beloved Frances. But for Maconakwa, it is a moment of truth, the test of whether her heart is truly a red one.
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It is based on the true story of Francis Slocum, a 4 year old Quaker girl who was kidnapped by Delaware Indians in the 1770s on the Pennsylvania frontier near Wilkes-Barre. (There are recreation areas named for her in both Pennsylvania and Indiana)
It is also the story of her family's 60 year search for her across the Midwest and even into Canada.
It is also the story of the relentless American westward movement and how the Indians dealt with it.
The reader also gets a fantastic lesson on daily life among the Delaware and Miami Indians.
If you're a Star Trek: The Next Generation fan you'll remember the epidsode in which Picard is "attacked" by the alien probe from the long-dead world that makes him live an entire lifetime among their people in his mind in just a few seconds so that their way of life will never be forgotten. (It's the one where he learns to play the little flute-type instrument). Well, this book reminds me of that - you are drawn into this woman's life and initiated into Indian culture as she is. you learn along with her. You grow up with her, feel her disappointments and joys and her confusions as she learns that her white family is searching for her (should she seek them? should she run? Would it be best to take advantage of her white skin and abandon her Indian family as the times get harder and harder?)
I have a few quibbles with the book but those are dwarfed by Thom's overall accomplishment. Honestly, at the end of the book, when Francis Slocum dies, I felt as though a longtime friend who'd lived a wonderful and fulfilling life had died - and that is the greatest compliment I think I can give it.
Frances quickly adapts and was integrated into the Delaware life but then later, through marriage, the Miamis. She had many opportunities to make her presence known and to be taken back to the white people. Instead, she covered her red hair and avoided contact with those who might have known who she was. Her skin was white but her heart had become red and she chose to stay with her adopted people. The Slocums never stopped looking for her. Her brothers went on many lengthy journeys searching for their sister.
Being of Native American blood myself, it was very easy for me to get caught up in Frances' new life among the Indians. This is such a fascinating subject for me which is not very often found in adult literature. Most novels on the capture of white children taken by Indians are written for juvenile or young adult readers. This is the second book by James Alexander Thom that I have read. I held the first novel in such high esteem that I had to read another. Believe me when I say I was not let down. This is a truly delightful read, full of history. Though some may disagree with the picture Thom portrays of Native Americans, I can assure you that it is very true. Many think if the "red man" as savages. This is not the case. They were peaceful and proud people given only to violence in keeping what was theirs and retaliated only when they were afraid that they were danger of being attacked. If they were left alone and in peace, white men would have had the best "neighbors". I highly recommend this book to other readers of Native American literature.
To my way of thinking the American Indians Wars were this nation's longest running war, it ran over 300 years from the 1500's to nearly the 1900's. It came in three major phases the early explorers and settlers marked by De Soto's invasion of the Southeast, King Phillips War and the Pueblo uprising of 1680, that was the end of the first phase nearly a draw slight advantage to the Europeans. The next phase the clearing out of the native tribes in the Northeast and along the river and forests of Pennsylvania, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, West Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee started around the time of French-Indian war and the defeat of General Braddock forces in 1755 to the trail of tears and the Indian removal act of 1830. This book "The Red Heart" deals with the native home front the price paid by women children and the elderly during part of this second phase of the Indian wars. The final phase of the wars is what most American's think of if they think of America's longest war and that is the conflict with the Northern Plains tribes the wiping out of the California natives and the Apache wars of the late 1800's. I think if I were to recommend one book to read for each of these phases I might say Coming of the Storm (Contact: The Battle for America #1)
by W. Michael Gear, Kathleen O'Neal Gear for the early explorer/settler phase, then this book The Red Heart for the second expanding settler phase. I have no recommendation for the final phase so far still searching for that but The Red Heart is a really emotionally moving book and a great read both from a historical point of view and just as a nice piece of literature.