New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006
We often hear of the potato famine in Ireland and how the people were forced off their land. We don't often hear about what was happening in Scotland during the same time period. Families were being forced off their land so that wealthy land barons could use the land for grazing sheep. Families were often forced onto boats to Canada and left their homes with little more than the clothes on their backs. Jeannie and Sarah find themselves in this situation. Their family is leaving for Canada and have sold everything in order to have money for the trip. But Sarah runs away and hides so she doesn't have to go. Instead she and her grandmother head out to a tiny island that was home to her grandparents many years before. Although life is hard in Scotland, Jeannie and the rest of the family are in much dire straights in Cape Breton. Father and two of the daughters die on the voyage. This leave Jeannie, her mother and her baby brother trying to find a home in Canada. They face starvation, homelessness and scorn from locals on the way. Through it all, the sisters never stop thinking about each other.
Teenage sisters Jeannie and Sarah live in Scotland during the time of the Highland Clearances in 1850. Landlords figured out they could make more money raising sheep than they could collect as rent from tenant farmers. Thousands of Scots were forced to leave their homes. Sarah and Jeannieís parents plan to immigrate to Canada. The night before they leave, Sarah braids her hair together with Jeannieís. While Jeannie sleeps Sarah cuts the braid and leaves half the braid in her sisterís hand. The girls are separated because Sarah chooses to stay in Scotland with their grandmother while Jeannie and the rest of the family go to Canada. The sisters are torn apart and the braid becomes their one physical connection. Chapters alternately tell the story of Jeannie in Canada and Sarah who moves to a more remote island with her grandma. Jeannie, her parents and three younger siblings endure a harrowing sea voyage that they donít all survive, and an unhappy arrival in Canada. In her new home, Sarah begins to feel an attraction to a young fisherman, Murdo Campbell. The author, Helen Frost, examines pertinent issues of homelessness, poverty and teen pregnancy in this quick-paced, drama-filled story. Itís a slim book, but the powerful story will stay with you. The short poems between the chapters are woven together in a unique way. As soon as you finish the book youíll want to go right back and reread all the poems. This is a poignant and riveting story. (Pennsylvania Young Readerís Choice Awards nominee, 2008-2009)
Sisters -- Fiction.
Family life -- Fiction.
Islands -- Fiction.
Mingulay (Scotland) -- History -- 19th century -- Fiction.
Emigration and immigration -- Fiction.
Cape Breton Island (N.S.) -- History -- 19th century -- Fiction.
Scotland -- History -- 19th century -- Fiction.
Canada -- History -- 1841-1867 -- Fiction.