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The year is 1857. Twelve-year-old Tess Roy lives in Castle Dunroy, Scotland. Her life changes dramatically when her mother dies and a new landlord forces Tess and her father off the land they've farmed for generations. They are given passage to the New World aboard Borealis, a ship bound from Liverpool to Fort Victoria, Vancouver Island. Aboard ship, Tess meets girls her own age who are too poor to ride above deck and a nineteen-year-old Navy deserter turned Gold Rush prospector named Jock. Once she lands on Vancouver Island, Tess meets Chinese, black, and First Nations settlers and learns of the trade in women. She and her father struggle to make a new home in this strange, sometimes forbidding, and sometimes exotic world. Here is classic engagingly historical fiction by a talented writer who brings a fateful voyage across the ocean and the fascinating frontier of North America in the 1850s vividly to life.
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Jocelyn Reekie lives on Canada's Quadra Island, where she is at work on a third novel. She also writes picture books and performs as an actor and comic.From Booklist:
Gr. 5-8. This historical novel, set in 1857, may well be the first to begin with a 13-year-old girl shooting, gutting, and butchering a deer. Headstrong Tess must soon leave her beloved Scottish home, however, after her mother and brother die and her father decides to start a new life in British Columbia. The numerous settings include the Scottish highlands as well as several locales in coastal British Columbia, but the most closely focused and engaging parts of the story take place aboard The Borealis, as Tess and her father sail the seas on a cargo ship with few other passengers. In British Columbia, Tess finds herself at loggerheads with her stern and demanding uncle, whose ideas on social strata and propriety are as strong as her ideas on social equality and personal independence. Tess has her tender side and her moments of doubt, but readers will most admire her pluck, her obstinacy, and her stubborn determination to do what she thinks is right. A good adventure story with a strong heroine, this Canadian novel will leave many readers hoping for a sequel. Carolyn Phelan
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