CM . . .
. Volume XII Number 21 . . . . June 23, 2006
One of the many strengths of Crook's writing is her ability to show, rather than to tell, what is happening. Good writing provides enough detail to stimulate the senses and show the reader what is going on. Poor writing reverts to summarizing and telling the reader what is happening. This quality in Crook's writing is exemplified through her treatment of John's romantic interest in the neighbour, Nan Burditt. Throughout the novel, the author skilfully resists the temptation to tell us that Nan's affections lie elsewhere. Rather, Crook subtly incorporates episodes that suggest that Nan's heart beats not for John, but for his older brother, George. It is very well written, and throughout, the reader is tantalized, left to deduce for him or herself whether John will ultimately be lucky in love.
Having said these things, John's romantic aspirations are but a subplot to what is an exciting action adventure. The political unrest in and around Toronto in 1837 and 1838 is at the heart of this drama. Given the Meyers' Loyalist roots, Crook presents a delicious tension between the loyal patriotic family traditions and the growing unrest at the so-called Family Compact network of officials who dominated the government and controlled the distribution of patronage throughout Upper Canada. Eventually, most of the Meyers' family joins the side of the Reformers, and John and his brothers become involved in rebellion.
I must concede that I preferred both Flight and Meyers' Creek to this latest offering. That is not, however, to say that this book was not an enjoyable one to read. While this is a good book, I believe its two predecessors were a little faster paced and contained more action.
Historical fiction doesn't necessarily engender a great deal of enthusiasm from teenage readers. Despite this, I think that high school Canadian history teachers would do well to direct their students toward Connie Brummel Crook. As a relatively new arrival to this country, I have learned a great about Canada's historical roots through reading the Meyers series.
Although the promotional release from the publisher, Fitzhenry and Whiteside, states that this book concludes the Meyers family series, in her historical note after word, the author clearly suggests there will be an additional book. In the next book, we are to learn whether it was John or George (or, indeed, somebody else altogether) who succeeded in winning Nan's heart. I am one reader who certainly hopes that the series has not yet come to an end. I expect that Connie Brummel Crook has far too many interesting family history stories to share for her to end just yet.
Gregory Bryan teaches literacy education classes at the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.