Saturday, January 16, 2010
On The Long Trail Home
by Elisabeth J. Stewart
Scholastic ISBN # 0-590-54324-5
written + copyrighted in 1994
From the book cover:
Meli hasn't seen her older brother, Tahlikwa, since the day when the soldiers drove them away from their home. For months, now, in the long stockade and during the tiring journey, she has wondered whether Tahlikwa is alive. So when she sees him one morning, she doesn't hesitate.
Ignoring the soldiers and their guns, she runs toward her brother. Together they escape the forced march of the Cherokee people and head for the mountains. But Tahlikwa is badly wounded. He can hardly walk. With the soldiers hot on their trail, it is up to Meli to bring her and her brother safely home.
This book is about a real life girl. The author's great grandmother is Meli. She fictionalized the story, but it is based on real events.
This is about one girls escape from the Trail Of Tears, a truly horrific episode in American history. Many Cherokee were forced to leave their homes, and removed to Oklahoma.
Meli has watched her mother and little sister, Ayoli Usti, die. She doesn't know if her older brother, Tahlikwa, her younger brother, Awi Usti, or her father are even still alive. The only one of her family who is left with her is her Grandmother. So when she sees her older brother is in another wagon, what she does is courageous. She runs toward him.
I like this book, even though it brought me near to tears to think that America could do this to her own people. I am 1/4 Native American, though my family was from Upstate New York. I knew in an offhand way about the Trail Of Tears. I knew that it was a tragedy which should never have happened.
This story, however, brought it all home to me in a way that I did not expect/ Meli was a real person, and her family was real.
Of course, I can not tell you all that happens, because what fun would you have in reading it yourself, than?
This is, however, not a totally sad book. Some of the tears I was nearly moved to were happy ones.
I recommend this book to anyone who would like to read about strong girls. This book is at the reading level of about 9-12. Girls of that age would definitely be enthusiastic about this book.
Have you ever read a book about a true life event? One that brought home the reality that this really happened? That it is not just some dusty facts in a history book? If you have ever read anything like that, please let me know. I am always looking for my next good read.