Broken Days

Book review by
Monica Wyatt, Common Sense Media
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Makes history exciting for teens.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

Many characters hate and abuse Native Americans. The main character steals and lies but eventually admits her wrongdoing.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the main character steals, lies, and deliberately ruins her half-Shawnee cousin's life. Readers will learn about the difficulties between whites and Native Americans in the early 19th century.

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What's the story?

Walking Breeze, a Shawnee girl, is about fourteen years old when her mother, Much Favored, dies. Much Favored was actually Thankful Chelmsford, a white girl kidnapped by the Shawnee years ago. Now it's time for Walking Breeze to return to her mother's people, taking with her a piece of her mother's quilt, which can prove her identity.

However, her cousin, Epie, in Salem, Massachusetts immediately sees the threat this half-Indian girl poses to her position in her grandfather's household. Epie, determined to keep Walking Breeze out of her family, takes the quilt and lies about having seen it.

Walking Breeze becomes a servant for the family, then must face working in the textile mill her grandfather has begun. She has trouble adapting to white ways. Only when Epie finally tells the truth can the family come together again.

Is it any good?

Author Ann Rinaldi's historical fiction succeeds by personalizing history for young readers. This second book in the Quilt Trilogy concentrates on the clash between whites and Native Americans. Even in such established communities as Salem, Mass., during the early 19th century the townsfolk feared Native Americans and treated the few among them as outcasts. Epie's fear and dislike of Walking Breeze, and her willingness to behave unethically in order to get rid of the girl, echoes the attitudes of most white Americans at the time.

Modern readers may have difficulty understanding why American society approved of killing Native Americans, but they'll have no trouble understanding why Epie wants Walking Breeze out of her family and out of the house. As always, the author includes a note highlighting the history behind her books, and a bibliography.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Epie's treatment of her cousin. Is her behavior any less atrocious when considered in the context of the time and place she lived?

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