This interesting historical romance, which purports to be based on family lore from the author's Native American heritage, nonetheless lapses into colonialist fantasy. Lucas, in this first novel, tells the story of John Billips and his family on the Appalachian frontier. Forced to flee Philadelphia after killing a drunken British soldier, Billips takes his family into the wilderness. Settling in an isolated mountain valley in the late 17th century, the brood is befriended by Lame Crow, a Tuscarora, who helps them learn the tricks necessary for survival in the alien environment. After he is forced to return to his people, Lame Crow sends Runs With The Wind, a 13-year-old youth, to check on the white family he has adopted. When the lad finds them menaced by an approaching Apalachee war party, he leads them to the Tuscaroras. The entire family is then accepted and adopted into the clan. Unable to return either to their home or to civilization, the family settles into life among the Indians. The boys train to become warriors; the daughter, Priscilla (known as Sassy), marries Runs With The Wind, to whom she was attracted at first sight. War with the colonists, who are greedy to have the Indian lands, shatters their idyllic existence. Without hesitation, the family sides with their new people over their old. When Sassy goes off on her own, she is discovered and taken in by white settlers, who assume she has been an Indian captive. The remainder of the novel involves Sassy's attempts to escape and return to her family and her adoptive people and the tribe's efforts to locate her. But even when a reunion occurs, things will never be the same. The Tuscaroras' independent existence is coming to an end. Despite an attempt at an affirmative portrayal of Natives, the Indians come off as stereotypes, alternately romanticized and described as grunting primitives.
Pub Date: Aug. 30, 1994
Page Count: 280
Publisher: "Soho -- dist. by Farrar, Straus & Giroux"