Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Ghost Hawk

Finished April 13
Ghost Hawk by Susan Cooper

I first came across Susan Cooper as a teenager, but I hadn't been aware of this book, so I was glad to come across it. This is historical fiction, with a touch of fantasy, and focuses on two boys. 
It starts with Little Hawk, a boy of the Pokanoket people. As the book opens, Little Hawk is preparing to go on his initiation journey, a journey that all boys take as they become men. There are four boys going out at this time, including Little Hawk's good friend Leaping Turtle. They take little with them: a bow, a tomahawk, and a knife. They go in the fall and return in the spring, and live in the wilderness alone through the winter. They must make their own shelter and find their own food. They must fast until the are visited by their Manitou, the animal spirit that will guide them throughout their life. 
Little Hawk goes through many trials during his journey, but he finds more when he returns, and finds his village almost deserted. Disease has ravaged it, leaving few survivors. He must gather with other nearby people and create a new village.
As he does this, he learns more of the leader Yellow Feather, who has negotiated a peace with the white men who have come recently to the land. And he interacts briefly with the child of one of them, a boy named John Wakeley. 
Some time later the two boys meet in a different place and this meeting will change both their lives irrevocably. From there the story follows John for the most part, as we see him make choices that will alienate him from some of his countrymen, and take him farther away from the places where he and Little Hawk met and continued their unusual friendship. 
This is a story of the early settlers in the United States, their interaction with the native people, and the prejudices and actions that determined the fate of both. 
The author includes a section at the back giving more historical information and context that will be useful for readers to place this book in the history of this continent. 

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