In 1759, in the midst of the global conflict between France and England, a little village in Quebec was a small arena of the larger conflict.
The English, with the help of Stockbridge Indian scouts, attacked the Abenaki village of St. Francis, allied with the French. According to Major Robert Rogers’s account, the attack was a huge success for the English: the village was devastated and the Abenakis wiped out. Bruchac tells the Abenaki version of the story, which is, apparently, borne out by modern historians. In this story, through the eyes of Saxso, a young Abenaki boy, the village was indeed attacked by the Bostoniak, their name for the English, but the attack was not a complete success. Much of the village was destroyed, and loved ones were killed or kidnapped. But the surviving Abenakis exacted a toll on the fleeing Bostoniak, and players in the story, such as Saxso, followed the Bostoniak and rescued family members. It seems a fair-minded account. Saxso acknowledges the help he had along the way, from the teachings of parents and his uncle, his great-grandfather, a Stockbridge warrior who admired Saxso’s courage, and—near the end of the journey south toward Crown Point on Lake Champlain—the kindness of two white people who helped heal his wounds. Bruchac’s passion is for retelling the “untold or misrepresented events of history,” and this is one of his best-written novels. He keeps the focus small—one boy’s story in this one incident—and, through it, weaves in much related history for context. The author succeeds in making the point of the story universal: the importance of not becoming consumed with hating an enemy who has winter in his heart, but “how necessary it is to always keep the summer in our hearts.”
An important addition to American history fiction collections. (Fiction. 10+)