SILENT STRANGER by Amanda Benton


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Set on a farm in western New York state during the War of 1812, a novel in which the history is adeptly and subtly woven into a gripping personal story. On a cold winter night, Jessica, 14, discovers a frightened young man hiding in the barn. He can't (or won't) speak, but Jessica coaxes him into the house, where he becomes one of the family. Daniel, as they call him, proves to be a willing and hard worker; Jessica, missing her mother, who, due to an illness, has returned to her own mother's home in Albany, grows more than a little fond of Daniel. An influential storekeeper in town, Mr. Stillwater, along with his family, spread rumors about Daniel, suggesting that he's crazy and possibly dangerous. The rumors and trouble escalate when Jessica's father goes to fetch his wife home, leaving Jessica, her older brother, Linus, and Daniel to run the farm. When Mr. Stillman says their father has sent word instructing them to sell their beloved farm and move east, both Linus and Jessica can't believe the message. The revealing of Daniel's trauma and true identity sheds light on some of the treacherous political wheeling and dealing that characterized the war. This worthwhile read is spun from intriguing, detailed descriptions of frontier farm life, with believable characters reacting to the mounting tension on the home front.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1997
Page count: 152pp
Publisher: Avon