I AM REGINA by Sally M. Keehn

I AM REGINA

Age Range: 11 & up

KIRKUS REVIEW

 Basing her dramatic first-person, present-tense narrative on historical accounts of a German-American girl who was an Indian captive for the nine years of the French and Indian War, Keehn has written a first novel that rivals Hudson's Sweetgrass (1989) in its compelling evocation of Native Americans in transition. After killing and scalping Regina's father and brother, Tiger Claws relentlessly persecutes her on the march from eastern Pennsylvania to his Ohio village. Regina's plucky sister is threatened with being burned alive before being taken away by another Indian; Regina's new ``sister'' is a child she carried on the grueling journey. After such a beginning, making the reasons for the white man's fear of the Indians palpably clear (without sensationalizing), it's a tribute to Keehn's skill that she makes Regina's ultimate sympathy for her captors entirely believable. Although Tiger Claws remains brutal and his mother Woelfin stern and unforgiving, Regina makes close friends among the other Indians and comes to understand the magnitude of their tragic losses and the whites' betrayals. Rescue, when it comes, is almost as bitter as captivity; unlike others of the 200 freed at the war's end, Regina loses neither husband nor child, but she's forced to abandon the aging Woelfin, for whom she has finally learned affection as well as responsibility, to certain death. In a poignant conclusion, Regina is among those reunited with their families; a historical afterword adds tantalizingly little. A profoundly moving evocation of a terrible experience mitigated by faith, courage, and humanity, told with simplicity, compassion and admirable restraint. Bibliography. (Fiction. 11+)

Pub Date: May 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-399-21797-5
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Philomel
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1991




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