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Saturday, January 28, 2006

Hochstetler's, Native Son~ reviewed

J. M. Hochstetler
ISBN 0-310-25257-1
293 Pages

Reviewed by Erin Valentine

Elizabeth Howard and Jonathan Carleton defied overwhelming odds against their love, struggling to hold on to each other against the backdrop of a revolution. Before they can rest and enjoy their time together, however, General Washington has requests of them. Jonathan is sent into Indian Territory to secure the loyalty of the Natives for the American forces, a task he is uniquely suited for based on childhood ties to the Shawnee. Elizabeth is asked to stay behind and continue her work as a spy, gaining the intelligence from British loyalists that the General needs. Both of the lovers confront great dangers, yet hold on to the faith and hope that they will be together once more.

As with Daughter of Liberty, I am once again struck by the ability of Hochstetler to paint honest, even-handed portraits of people at war. She uses the keen eye of a historian to develop truthful relationships and concerns. This novel goes beyond the fighting in the colonies and travels into the lands of the Iroquois, Seneca, and Shawnee Indians, illustrating the author's obvious comprehension of a community both noble and brutal.

Soon after the novel begins, Jonathan and Elizabeth find themselves wrenched apart by the continuing needs of their countrymen. Deft moves between these two characters and their respective adventures build a suspenseful and portentous mood.

Native Son spends more time on Jonathan and his plight than in the previous novel, exploring his inner turmoil after being captured by Mohawk Indians, who plan to collect the substantial reward on his head from the British. As Jonathan lives and interacts with the different Indian tribes, his previous ties to the natives are strengthened. In addition to being torn between his love for Elizabeth and his loyalty to the American cause, his capture creates another quandary for Jonathan as he tries to balance his allegiances for the newly forming nation and the embattled Indians. His faith in God's plan for his life is what keeps him alive, trusting that He will guide him in the best way possible.

Elizabeth once again faces great danger, and although she doesn't participate in battle as she did in Daughter of Liberty, there are some very tense moments as she travels between her home in Boston and General Washington's headquarters. Her espionage duties are made more difficult by the suspicions of the British officers that Elizabeth might have participated in the daring escape of a captured American officer. She has to work doubly hard in this novel to win their trust.

A word of warning to those of you who read the last few pages of a novel before you finish...don't do it! And if you must (I should know, because I did), don't give up on this book. Despite my concern that Native Son was not going to do end as I would prefer, I still read it and found it to be an engaging, gripping novel.


  1. These both look good! My book fund is getting low, so it'd be nice to win some! Heather

  2. Great review. I would love this. Put my name in.

  3. Wow! This book sounds great! I've read some historical fiction in this time-setting, but this seems like a new twist to it. I'd love to win this!

  4. Great review put my name in too please.

  5. Me! Me! Pick me!!! Loved the review and would love to win!

  6. Great review!!!

    Put my name in!!

    God Bless,

  7. Count me in... this book is already on my wish list.


  8. Read your review and it made me want to read this book all the more. Please enter me into the contest.


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