Kirkus Reviews QR Code
SALT by Helen Frost Kirkus Star


A Story of Friendship in a Time of War

by Helen Frost

Age Range: 10 - 14

Pub Date: July 9th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-374-36387-1
Publisher: Frances Foster/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Frost explores the wide-ranging impact of wartime aggression through the intimate lens of two 12-year-old boys caught in the crossfire of the War of 1812.

Anikwa, a member of the Miami tribe hailing from Kekionga, often spends his days hunting and playing in the forest with James Gray, whose home is in the stockade near Fort Wayne. For centuries, Anikwa’s ancestors have lived in this area, and James’ family has enjoyed amicable relations with the Miami and other Native Americans with whom they exchange goods. While these differing communities have learned from and helped support each other through adverse conditions, British and American claims to the Indiana Territory near Fort Wayne force them to re-examine their relationship. As other tribes and thousands of American soldiers gather to fight to establish the border between Canada and the United States, Anikwa’s grandmother laments, “We can’t stop things from changing. I hope / the children will remember how our life has been,” foreshadowing how the boys’ friendship, which has always been able to bridge cultural and language gaps, will face unprecedented challenges. Frost deftly tells the tale through each boy’s voice, employing distinct verse patterns to distinguish them yet imbuing both characters with the same degree of openness and introspection needed to tackle the hard issues of ethnocentrism and unbridled violence.

Sensitive and smart: a poetic vista for historical insight as well as cultural awareness. (Verse novel. 10-14)