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Beames, John.

Saskatoon, Western Producer Prairie Books, 1988. 304pp, paper. $16.95. ISBN 0-88833-262-9. CIP

Grades 11 and up
Reviewed by Adele M. Fasick

Volume 16 Number 6
1988 November

John Beames brings pioneer life in northern Saskatchewan vividly to life in this novel first published more than fifty years ago. By following the fortunes of two very different families—the hardworking, inarticulate Clovellys and the aristocratic Grants--he is able to bring to life the hardships, challenges and triumphs of early homesteading days.

In many ways, this novel is an ideal introduction for high school students to a way of life that has disappeared. Unfortunately, the racist and sexist attitudes that were prevalent at the time of us writing are accepted uncritically. Not only do the characters belittle both women and native peoples, but the author appears to accept their evaluation. Women are referred to as the "unfriendly sex" and are blamed for the formation of cliques, and the homes of indians are described as having a "peculiar odour." Even though the female characters emerge as strong figures and the indians act with integrity, the language used about them is objectionable.

Teachers and librarians will want to use caution in recommending this novel, although for mature students who are able to understand the attitudes in historical perspective it would be an excellent starting point for a discussion of changing values.

Adele M. Fasick, Toronto, Ont.
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