Ghost Hawk by Susan CooperGhost Hawk by Susan Cooper

This is a historical fiction pseudo fantasy epic about the relationships between the Native Americans and settlers in the New World, namely Plimoth, but the book spans several settlements in setting. The story starts off with Little Hawk being sent out into the woods for 3 months to become a man. We see his culture and how he was trained to survive and appreciate nature. It feels survivalist at first. But, when Little Hawk finally returns, a tragic plague the white people have brought sweeps his tribe.

The story then shifts to John Wakeley, a boy growing up in Plimoth. He carries the guilt of how the whites treat the Native Americans and the devout men in his town threaten him several times if he supports the Native Americans and stands up for their rights. His widow mother remarries an evil man and John is sent to be an apprentice way earlier than he should have.

The next part of the story covers John’s apprenticeship and growing political sentiments. He thinks that people should worship however they want. He is the only one that sees the irony that the British escaped to America to avoid religious persecution and now the pilgrims were punishing people with witchcraft claims if they practiced any other religion. John gets made and is threatened even more and moves his family to Rhode Island.

In Rhode Island, the Native Americans are finally sick of being killed for no reason and provoked. So they finally launch an attack that John tries and fails to prevent.

So while I thought the story telling was really good and I was sympathetic to the two main characters that were well developed, this story could have easily ended three times and just kept going. Good luck getting kids to finish the whole book. There is more adventure at the beginning of the book and then the pace slows. I was okay with it, but I don’t think middle grade readers will be. The audio narrator was outstanding, though. He did his best with what text he had to work with.

PS – There is a really cool fantastical connection between John and Little Hawk that I don’t want to give away entirely because it includes major plot points. I thought that was a neat writing device. So, actually, the entire books is written in Little Hawk’s voice.