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Cecil Freeman Beeler
Red Deer (Alta.), Red Deer College Press, 1991. 134pp, paper, $8.95
ISBN 0-88995-075-X. Distributed by Raincoast Books. CIP

Grades 6-8/Ages 11-13

Reviewed by Bobbie Henley

Volume 20 Number 3
1992 May

Description used throughout The Girl in the Well emphasizes the way of life on a prairie farm. Against the back-drop of the Great Depression, the story is told by a young girl called Corrine as she tries to manage the chores her father would normally do. Corrine's father has gone to the city to earn money for the farm, and her mother, who has a difficult time speaking English, seldom ventures out of the house.

Rumours about the disappearance of her father spread quickly in the community, and soon Corrine is shunned by neighbours and ridiculed by Mertie, her so-called friend. To protect herself from being hurt, she makes up stories to tell Moses, her horse, and Pokie, her pet chicken. And being the clever girl she is, she decides that adopting someone else's father as her own would solve her problems.

However, the style of The Girl in the Well makes the story somewhat difficult to understand. The pictures Corrine forms in her mind will sometimes confuse young readers. What is reality? Yet The Girl in the Well is in many ways a delightful, thought-provoking story. Its pluses include wonder­ful descriptions, action-packed situations, and an admirable main character.

However, young readers may have a difficult time with the sudden changes in time. Some of the scenes seem disjointed, and one has to backtrack to ensure one hasn't missed something. The narrative will also be a challenge for young readers, as many expressions used are unfamiliar.

Because of these drawbacks, I think the novel will have a limited appeal. Readers will have to accept a challenge and persevere to enjoy this book through to the end.

Bobbie Henley, Brantford Collegiate and Vocational Institute, Brantford, Ont.

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