BLOOD RED OCHRE by Kevin Major


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A dual story of a modern Canadian teen-ager who discovers a family secret, and a Native American couple who are reunited after more than a century apart. David, having just learned that the man his mother married isn't his father, is punishing himself, his family and his friends with sullen behavior and bitter comments. For reasons he can't explain, he's drawn to Nancy, an enigmatic new classmate; though initially unresponsive, she seems to take greater interest in him as they study the sad history of the Beothuk, a native tribe whose last member--a woman named Shanawdithit--died in 1829. In a parallel narrative, a young Beothuk named Dauoodaset undertakes a perilous journey to the sea in search of food for his dwindling band, thinking of his betrothed, Shanawdithit; he ends up on a small coastal island, hiding from a white hunter. Meanwhile, at Nancy's urging, David takes her to that same island. Somehow, Dauoodaset is there; Nancy triumphantly announces that she is Shanawdithit, and now the Beothuk will have a new beginning; but the white man jumps up, shoots Dauoodaset, and everyone except David disappears. This would be a better ghost story if Nancy were more convincing: she acts and dresses oddly, but not that oddly, has no trouble fitting in at school, and Major never explains why she picks this time to appear or why she needs David's help. David's personal crisis is handled more believably; after a meeting with his unimpressive biological father, he shows some signs of calming down. Still, a confused, directionless story.

ISBN: 385-29794-7
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Delacorte
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