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Shortly after the Revolutionary War, a sixteen-year-old girl and her family are torn apart by a devastating secret, but she and her sisters--before going their separate ways--divide up the fabric meant for the family quilt.
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Set in late 18th-century Salem, Massachusetts, first of a projected trilogy (to trace three generations) in which a quilt made by three sisters is the central motif. Hannah, the eldest, is the glue that keeps the troubled Chelmsford family from flying apart. Autocratic Father, embittered by a single infidelity by his deceased wife (whom he abused), favors bratty daughter Thankful and rejects illegitimate son Cabot. Hannah and her brother Lawrence conspire in sister Abigail's planned elopement with South Carolina sea captain Nate Videau. Hannah's own earlier romance, squelched by her father, enables her to realize her love for poor but ambitious Richard Lander. Hoping to prevent her from revealing Abby's plans, Hannah encourages their father to take Thankful to the Ohio Territory--where she is captured by Indians and ultimately chooses to remain with them. Meanwhile, each sister works on a piece of the quilt, which Hannah has decided will symbolize trusted people in their lives. Mr. Chelmsford becomes a partner in an early cotton mill; Hannah is drawn into social work on behalf of its exploited workers. Though Rinaldi's research (detailed in a note) occasionally intrudes, it also keeps the setting and flavor authentic. Characteristically for this writer, dialogue is an awkward mix of contemporary and period idiom (Videau's southern accent is particularly inconsistent). Still, the memorable characters and their historically accurate context balance the flaws, raising the story from the soap-opera level. Bibliography. (Fiction. 12+) -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From School Library Journal:
Grade 6 Up-This first book in a projected trilogy presents the embittered Chelmsford family of Salem, Massachusetts, circa 1780. From young Cabot, who longs to go to sea; to Abigail, who runs away with her Southern beau; to Thankful, the saucy favored daughter; to Lawrence, the handsome older brother; to Hannah, the eldest and the narrator, readers are drawn into the struggles of a post-Revolutionary war family. Nathaniel, the patriarch, is aloof and puritanical. He leaves for a trip to the Ohio frontier and takes Thankful with him. With two sisters gone, one brother in rebellion, and the other leading the western expedition, Hannah is left as the family sentinel. She takes solace in the quilt she is making from scraps given to her by special friends and family. As she tells her story and stitches her quilt, the patchwork of their lives takes shape. Hannah grows as she learns to cope with startling facts of her deceased mother's life, the return of an old flame, and her own love for a dashing sea captain. There is plenty of personal interest, adventure, humor, fear, and joy in this ambitious novel, and more action than in Rinaldi's In My Father's House (Scholastic, 1993). The appealing characters ring true. However, this is a long book, and Rinaldi occasionally waxes philosophical as Hannah ponders her fate. The research is well documented, and the quilt theme is a unique strand that will eventually pull all three books and sisters together. A good, solid addition where historical fiction is in demand.
Beth Tegart, Oneida City Schools, NY
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description Scholastic Trade, 1994. Library Binding. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # DADAX0590460552
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