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TROUBLE'S DAUGHTER by Katherine Kirkpatrick

TROUBLE'S DAUGHTER

The Story of Susanna Hutchinson, Indian Captive

By Katherine Kirkpatrick

Age Range: 11 - 13

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-385-32600-9
Publisher: Delacorte

Kirkpatrick (Keeping the Good Light, 1995) tackles a sensitive subject and makes it ring true through acute details and the well-paced growth of her real-life protagonist. Susanna Hutchinson’s family is killed in 1643 by Lenape warriors and she is taken captive. While the nine-year-old grieves, she is expected to skin game, harvest corn, and take on other chores for her Lenape family. Eventually she adapts, and starts to appreciate elements of her new life; swimming, joking, and playing were freedoms her upbringing never afforded. Susanna is ultimately able to forgive her captors, grasping that her family was killed in retaliation for the appropriation of native lands. Where the book falters is in its handling of Susanna’s ability—passed on from her mother—to have visions. Her talent is revered by the Lenape; perhaps too typically in such stories, she’s the “white” outsider who is superior to the indigenous people. When Susanna returns to the colonies, her gift reverts to a minor role in the story, making it even more of a device than a fully-formed facet of her character. In all other ways—even though to be politically correct, historically accurate, and emotionally true is all but impossible—Kirkpatrick meets or exceeds the demands of her story; readers will be engrossed by the unaffected, dense descriptions of Native American life that are abetted by an appendix on Lenape language and culture. (bibliography) (Fiction. 11-13)