it is the time when the leaves
are small on the trees.
The year is 1812. A white trapper is murdered. And a young Chippewa stands accused.
Captured and shackled in leg irons and chains, Indian John is imprisoned in a settler's loft to await his trial. All the while, thirteen-year-old Rebecca Carver sleeps and cooks and cleans below, terrified by the captive Indian in her own home.
As the trial approaches, the Chippewa man struggles to make sense of the white man's court. In a world of crude frontier justice, where evidence is often overlooked in favor of vengeance, his young lawyer faces the wrath of the settlers who are hungry to see the Indian hanged for murder. And Rebecca must decide for herself what--and who--is right. At stake is a life.
Told in the alternating voices of Indian John and Rebecca Carver, Crooked River offers a probing look at prejudice, early American justice, and the true meaning of courage. An author's note and bibliography provide additional historical details for readers.Read an article about Crooked River.
Free teacher's guide available for download here. (PDF download)
"Shelley Pearsall delivers a tale of fear, ignorance, and bravery, superbly capturing the language of the time...included with a bibliography at the end of the book is a stirring Crooked River Reader's Theater [script]."
"This vivid look into the reality of crude frontier life and justice is outstanding historical fiction."
"Captivating tale of fear, ignorance and bravery on the Ohio frontier...Packed with believable characters wrapped in a thoroughly researched plot, Crooked River is a must-read for fans of historical fiction and would aptly serve as a discussion-rich tool for American studies."
"Pearsall's writing is straightforward and spiced with frontier talk and incisive character descriptions...[an] issue-raising historical novel about frontier life, prejudice, justice, and courage."
"This is a nail-biting historical fiction account..."
"This is an excellent novel for a classroom or book-club discussion. The ending will leave you grasping the armrest of your chair, eagerly rooting for Indian John and Rebecca in their quest for justice."
Published 2005 by Knopf
Setting: Ohio in 1812