Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Book Review: Rebekah in Danger

Rebekah in Danger: Peril at Plymouth Colony. Sisters in Time #2. Colleen L. Reece. 2004. Barbour Books. 144 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: "I'm tired of working," eleven-year-old Rebekah Cunningham muttered to herself as she crawled into her familiar hiding place under the chicken coops on the Mayflower's deck.

Rebekah is very much her brother's keeper in this historical children's novel set in Plymouth Colony. Will can get into trouble easily. He always means well. Or so he claims. He wants to help out. He wants to be a big manly, man--even though he's a boy. So he "helps" out by following along behind the men when they go exploring or hunting. He also "helps" out by going hunting on his own. He doesn't always tell anyone he's about to wander off. So without Rebekah's oh-so-watchful eye upon him, his whereabouts would be more unknown. Unfortunately, Rebekah hates tattling and prefers scolding herself. (A few times a crisis would have been avoided if she'd left him and gone to tattle to someone--anyone.)

But believe it or not there were real threats facing ALL the colonists and not just the Cunningham family. Whether it was intentional or not on the author's part, the very real perils are overshadowed by family dramas and childish woes. Woes like Rebekah's complaining and muttering about having to work because she's a girl. (Does she not realize that EVERY single person--perhaps minus the babies and toddlers--is hard at work. That every single day brings its challenges. That their survival is very much uncertain. They are surviving--or not--day by day, week by week, month by month. No family--except the oh-so-lucky Cunninghams--is free from loss.)

If a young girl complaining about being a girl is your idea of fun, then this one is worth your time.

I was disappointed with this second book in the series. I liked some aspects of it. But I would have appreciated some continuity between book one and two. After all, they are both set at the same time and the same place. 1620-1621, the Mayflower and Plymouth Colony. Would it have been so difficult to have Rebekah be friends with Sarah and John be friends with Will. After all, the community IS small. After spending all those months together they are bound to have known each other.

I like historical fiction generally. And plenty of times historical fiction feels authentic. But there are times when it feels like the heroine is too modern--her sensibilities so thoroughly modern--that all she does is complain that things in 1621 aren't as they are in 2001.

Times were DANGEROUS and PERILOUS. I just wish the characterization had been better. Perhaps a book for an older audience wouldn't be afraid to be more authentic and intense.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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