Some Kind of Courage
January 26, 2016
Joseph Johnson has lost just about everyone he's ever loved. He lost his pa in an accident. He lost his ma and his little sister to sickness. And now, he's lost his pony-fast, fierce, beautiful Sarah, taken away by a man who had no right to take her. Joseph can sure enough get her back, though. The odds are stacked against him, but he isn't about to give up. He will face down deadly animals, dangerous men, and the fury of nature itself on his quest to be reunited with the only family he has left. Because Joseph Johnson may have lost just about everything. But he hasn't lost hope. And he hasn't lost the fire in his belly that says he's getting his Sarah back-no matter what.
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This was the best kind of historical fiction-- fast paced and interesting with lots of good details about what it was like to live in a certain time and place. Joseph's situation is certainly one that would have been common, and the inclusion of a variety of horse dealers was something new. While Joseph was dealing with many challenges, he always kept his sense of optimism, and the ending was a happy one.
It's difficult to find new books set in the old west, and many older titles contain inaccuracies, so it is great to see an adventure that encompasses horse riding, sleeping under the stars, and fighting outlaws. Fans of Gary Paulsen's Mr. Tucket series will find Joseph's search for his horse, and his home, to be a fresh and exciting read.
I very much appreciated the way that diversity was dealt with. This is an extremely tough call with historical books, and Gemeinhard struck a good balance. The terms and descriptions of the Chinese immigrants and the Indians are very true to the time period, and Gemeinhart goes out of his way to talk about the approved terms for the Chinese and how Joseph thinks that they should not be treated differently from other people. Because the author is not an enrolled member of a Native American tribe, however, I am concerned that the depictions of Native Americans will not meet with approval. The tribe dealt with is named as the Wenatchi.
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