THE SECOND BEND IN THE RIVER by Ann Rinaldi

THE SECOND BEND IN THE RIVER

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A disappointing historical offering from Rinaldi, especially in the wake of her strong novel about Phillis Wheatley, Hang A Thousand Trees with Ribbons (1996). In reconstructing the romance between Rebecca Galloway, a teenage settler, and the great Shawnee chief Tecumseh, Rinaldi follows the historical record closely--perhaps too closely, for amidst Rebecca's tale of comings and goings, marriages, gossip, and details of daily life, there is little room left for plot and characters. Only six in 1798, when she first meets Tecumseh, Rebecca is smitten, a feeling that intensifies and becomes mutual over the next ten years as she tutors him in English during his rare visits. In between she reports--but seldom witnesses, dramatizes, or analyzes--his efforts both to build a tribal confederacy and to preserve the uneasy peace; she includes other events, of course, from the death of her brother's young wife to Ohio's emergence into statehood. In the end, Rebecca turns down his proposal, deciding (without ever having seen his village) that she cannot live as a Shawnee; a few years later, married to a farmer, she learns of Tecumseh's death in battle. Although only the dialogue and a handful of minor characters and incidents are fictional, Rinaldi never creates a clear picture of pioneer life or of Tecumseh's career, and his relationship with Rebecca is too sketchy to hold the foreground.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1997
Page count: 279pp
Publisher: Scholastic