Monday, June 28, 2010

The Great Death

John Smelcer's historical fiction middle grade novel was calling my name on one of my library visits. Set in Alaska, two sisters are orphaned when everyone in their village dies of an epidemic. Trying to make their way downstream toward civilization, the sisters encounter many challenges, all the while trying to remember that their survival depends on their ability to stay together.

This is an intriguing story and fans of books like Hatchet will enjoy the people vs. nature plotline. While I enjoyed this story, there were some things I would like to change/add:

I would have appreciated author's notes that included some information about the epidemic these people were confronted with, the time period it was set in, and the native Alaskans. Without any information I think middle grade readers may need some assistance to really understand this novel.

I also wish there were some form of follow-up to the sisters' story, or that the story continued on a bit longer so that readers know what happens when the sisters find a village of people.

Smelcer's tale is amazing, though, showing how strong the will to survive is, and reinforcing the necessity of continuing on despite the tragedies that may befall one in life. Seeing these girls bury their parents and leave the rest of their friends and family is an amazing tale of courage.

1 comment:

Morgan said...

I will definitely have to read this book because it sounds amazing. Thank you for your great review.