We know that many teens love survival stories for their pacing, suspense and the unexpected trials the characters endure. In both of these historical novels, a young person is displaced from home, loses parents and security, makes a journey into the unknown, and overcomes obstacle after obstacle.
My Name is Resolute is quite a tome, a rich tapestry of a novel for readers to sink into. Author Nancy E. Turner keeps her focus on the characters, and Resolute in particular, allowing history to unfold through her experiences. Resolute is the daughter of a British Lord who has been sent to Jamaica to run a plantation in the early 1700’s. The family lives behind fortified walls, but pirates kidnap them all the same. You can follow Resolute’s journey in the book trailer.
Road to Reckoning begins almost a century after Resolute, and has been compared to early Cormac McCarthy. Robert Lautner is a British author whose debut is a particularly American coming of age story. The novel’s website includes some interesting history of the Colt guns at the center of this novel.
TURNER, Nancy E. My Name Is Resolute. 585p. bibliog. glossary. St. Martin’s Pr./Thomas Dunne Bks. Feb. 2014. Tr $27.99. ISBN 9781250036599.
As the pampered daughter of the owner of the Two Crowns Plantation in Jamaica, 10-year old Resolute spends her days filled with love and tales of charms, spells and magic shared by the Jamaican slaves who serve her family. But no spell can ward off the pirates who come one September day in 1729 and destroy their home, kill her mother, and throw her family into the hold of a slave ship. The treacherous journey crammed into the hold with hundreds of other slaves proves fatal to her father, precarious for her brother, and requires her sister to make unsavory choices to obtain food. Once ashore, they are separated and sold into slavery. Over the next few years, sold and re-sold, Resolute learns to spin and weave, becoming a master weaver. With the help of local Indians, Resolute escapes and makes her way to Lexington, Massachusetts determined to earn a passage home. What she finds instead is love, a way to use her skills, and a new home that is placed right in the center of world changing events filled with the passion – and danger – of revolution. This lavish, large book will appeal to historical novel loving teens. Spanning the years before the American Revolution, Resolute’s voice rings true to her time, and to her view of herself. She never accepts her situation and she keeps her eye on her return home. Many teens will not only admire this young woman, but will become enmeshed in the history that unfolds throughout the story.–Connie Williams, Petaluma High School, CA
LAUTNER, Robert. Road to Reckoning. 256p. Touchstone. 2014. Tr $24.99. ISBN 9781476731636; ebk. ISBN 9781476731650.
In 1837, 12-year-old Thomas Walker and his father leave New York to head west. Previously an eyeglass salesman, Thomas’s father becomes enamored with the newly patented Colt “machined pistol” and signs on with Mr. Colt himself to spread the word— and sell it—along the way. But as Thomas says: “if a man chooses to carry a gun he will get shot” and what starts out as an adventure quickly turns into tragedy when Thomas’s father is shot and killed by a group of thieves who leave the boy with nothing but his horse and wagon. Alone and unsure how to return home to his aunt, he befriends Henry Stands, a cantankerous ex-ranger, who unwillingly agrees to help him. They discover, however, that they must live by their wits and burgeoning friendship as they face thieves, mad men, and religious groups determined to “save” Thomas. Inevitable comparisons will be made with stories like True Grit, but this is not just Thomas’s story; it is also the story of how a single invention—a gun that can be mass-made by machine and fire many rounds in rapid succession—changed the course of the American West. Teens will see how settlers who were pushing the edges of the frontier had much to grapple with, and introducing new technology into this environment would certainly change it forever. —Connie Williams, Petaluma High School, CA