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THE LAST RAINMAKER by Sherry Garland

THE LAST RAINMAKER

By Sherry Garland

Age Range: 10 - 16

Pub Date: May 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-15-200649-4
Publisher: Harcourt

 The usually understated Garland (Letters from the Mountain, 1996, etc.) resorts to melodrama throughout this tale of a girl's search for identity. With the death of her grandmother, Caroline Long, 13, finds herself in the middle of a power struggle between her no-good, often-absent father, Jackson, and her grandmother's twin sister, Aunt Oriona. Caroline entrusts herself to Jackson's care, only to be shipped off to a cousin's home without him. For most of her life, Caroline has tried to find out about her mother, who died in childbirth. Now cousin Mattie tells Caroline the truth--she is the illegitimate offspring of her father and a beautiful Indian woman who performed 14 years ago in Shawnee Sam's Wild West show. When Caroline overhears her father, Aunt Oriona, and Mattie plot her final custody (Aunt Oriona is paying Jackson off and Mattie wants a piece of the action), she runs off with Shawnee Sam's Wild West show, hoping to learn more about her mother. ``Disguised'' as an Indian, she soon understands how badly the Native Americans are being treated; she also locates her mother's father--her grandfather. Garland gives Caroline a ``shattered'' heart and the ``bitter gall of betrayal'' she needs to run off, then peppers her heroine's path with contrivances. The book is enlivened by the behind-the-scenes life of the Wild West show and some insights into what it was like to be a Native American in white society in the 1800s. (Fiction. 10-16)