________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 15 . . . .April 1, 2005


When the River Calls. (Crossings of Promise).

Hugh Alan Smith.
Waterloo, ON: Herald Press, 2004.
259 pp., pbk., $18.29.
ISBN 0-8361-9268-0.

Subject Heading:
Hutterite Brethren-History-Fiction.

Grades 5-8 / Ages 10-13.

Review by Shelly Tyler.

*** /4



In the sequel to When Lightning Strikes, six years have passed since the Hutterites arrived in South Dakota, and we find Hannah in search of her old friend Paul. Paul has abandoned the colony that took him in when he was orphaned as a young boy, and he is looking to finally start a life of his own. When Paul's Aunt Sannah is dying, her last wish is for Hannah to find Paul and bring him home, back to the colony and back to the only life he has known. Sannah provides Hannah with the money and the motivation to go off in search of her friend and true love.

Leaving the colony yard, on the benchland road to the west, I passed the graveyard. A shiver ran up my spine. There was Sannah's grave, a dark mound of dirt among the cottonwood shadows that snaked in from the edge of the road. A lonesome doubt crept into my heart at the barren sight. Did I really know what I was doing? Had Sannah been right to worry? Did Paul really need my help? One thing was certain: if Paul did not need help, then I did. The outside world was no place for a female alone. Hearkening to the voice of a steamboat whistle! I must have been crazy!

     Hannah's journey is recorded throughout the book from her sneaking off her colony grounds to her boarding a steamship. Adventures ensue, adventures that include her younger brother Checkela acting as her unwanted protector. Together, they take on rowdy tavern patrons and wild ship workers called "roosters." When they finally stumble upon a clue as to where they can find Paul, they are faced with some hard truths about the outside world. Bringing Paul back to the colony proves to be a challenging adventure.

My heart was in my mouth as I stared. There he was, in front of a big log ranch house. He wore a rather un-Hutterite plainsman-style western hat, and he looked heavier in the shoulders-more muscular that the Paul that had left Split Rock Colony fifteen months before. But I could see the wiry quickness that I had so often admired, coiled into his build. It had to be him. I felt a flutter in my chest and blood flashed to my cheeks. Paul, at last!

     This sequel was not what one would expect after reading When Lightning Strikes. You would assume the second book would be about Paul's adventures and travels aboard a steamship and how he managed to fit into the outside world. This book actually tells us the story from the point of view of Hannah this time, and how she felt about Paul's leaving the colony and her anxiousness to find him again after so many years. We see the world through the eyes of a young woman who is facing challenges and finding her own way in the "real" world. I will repeat what I said about the first book, When the River Calls; I would recommend this book to the grade 5 and up audience as the content may be hard for younger children to understand in certain areas. There is a definite line of religion running throughout the story. This is historical fiction with a touch of romance.


Shelly Tyler is a Reference Librarian for the Manitoba Department of Education Library in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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