GIDEON'S PEOPLE by Carolyn Meyer


Age Range: 10 - 14
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 Isaac, 12, and his father, Jakob--a peddler of household goods just after the turn of the century--are making the rounds of their customers in eastern Pennsylvania when an accident leaves the boy badly hurt. An Amish farm family takes Isaac in while Jakob returns to his wife, who is about to give birth. Isaac begins to heal under the gentle ministrations of Mamm (the mother) and makes friends with two of her children--Gideon, 16, and his younger sister Annie--but life in an Old Order Amish household is not easy for him, an Orthodox Jew. There is trouble in the outwardly idyllic household: Gideon does not get along with the autocratic Datt (father) and plans to leave, even though he will be shunned by family and friends ``for all eternity.'' A quaint tale of another era? Not likely. The story is fascinating as an in-depth examination of two disparate cultures that--the boys discover--share many of the commonalities of the human experience; it's also a great coming- of-age novel, inhabited by people who may dress and speak differently from many readers but whose actions are entirely understandable. Meyer (Rio Grande Stories, 1994) gives her characters the motives, beliefs, hearts, and dreams to make each one's behavior compelling and inevitable. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: June 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-15-200303-7
Page count: 307pp
Publisher: Harcourt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1996


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