Reviews of Hope's Journey
Hope's Journey, the fifth volume in Jean Rae Baxter's "Forging a Nation" series, is the compelling
story of Hope Cobman, a strong, determined 13-year-old girl whose life as the child of United Empire
Loyalists has been deeply affected by the turmoil and dislocation of the American Revolution.
The story begins in 1791, soon after the death of Hope's mother, the only parent she has ever known. Considered an orphan by the authorities in Kingston, Province of Upper Canada, she is bound as an indentured servant to Ephraim Block, a lonely, backwoods pioneer, and his embittered, ailing mother. Hope is determined to find the father she has never met and the brothers she barely knew. Her father and eldest brother, Silas, fought with Butler's Rangers; her brother, Elijah, served as a private with the King's Royal Rangers of New York; and a third brother, Moses, was kidnapped by the Oneida. Moses' story is told in Ms. Baxter's Broken Trail and The White Oneida. Hope's mother, alone and pregnant, was forced to flee north to Fort Haldimand, not knowing the fate nor the whereabouts of her husband and sons.
Hope's servitude ends with the death of Mrs. Block, and she sets out on her own, with the help of old friends and kind strangers, to travel to Niagara where she has learned that her father, a shattered, dying man, now lives. The journey is lonely, filled with peril, frustration and disappointment, but this young woman, so aptly named, refuses to give up.
This book effectively brings to life the hardships faced by the Loyalists whose lives were turned upside down in the aftermath of the American Revolution. It is a story of courage, compassion and determination. Students aged 10 to 16 will learn a great deal about this fascinating period of Canadian history, and will be inspired by Hope's remarkable journey.
Reviewer: Nicola Jarvis Jennings
Canadian Childrenís Book News
Spring 2016. Volume 39 No. 1
In the fifth of Jean Rae Baxter's interconnected novels, 13-year-old Hope Cobman is determined
to find her father and three brothers, scattered throughout Upper Canada and the United States.
It is 1791. Hope's mother is dead, and she has become an indentured servant for a settler family
living west of Kingston. Although she has never met her father and two of her siblings, she is
quick to insist to all that she is not an orphan.
This story travels back and forth from the Kingston area to Butlersburg (now Niagara-on-the-Lake) as Hope journeys, once by ship and once on foot, to find her father. During her search, she re-encounters Charlotte Hooper Schuyler, and Hope's war-damaged brother, Elijah, who deserted the British forces in Freedom Bound. Her brother Moses, the protagonist of Broken Trail and The White Oneida, is mentioned but does not appear.
The real strength of Baxter's books is her ability to weave her research seamlessly and effortlessly into such engaging stories. Every step and adventure in Hope's tail will bring to life the times, the events and the geography of Hope's world and that of her brother and friend. Readers encounter families torn apart by war, the hardships faced by refugees who once lived comfortably but are now scratching out a living in a new country, the arduous travel required even to make inquiries and send letters - not to mention the longer voyages on foot or by boat to reunite - and in the terrible mental toll that war takes on solders in any era.
At the end of the book, Hope still has to find Moses/Broken Trail - a welcome hint that Baxter has a sixth book in mind - and, as Hope says, with a name like hers, anything is possible.
Reviewer: Gillian O'Reilly, Editor of Canadian Children's Book News
Resource Links Reviews
Rating: E for Excellent
This fifth volume in the Forging a Nation Series begins in 1791. Hope Cobman is 13; her mother has died and she has been released from the orphanage into indentured service. Hope knows her father and three older brothers are somewhere between the new Republic and United Empire Loyalist settlements in Upper Canada, that they are alive, and that she is not an orphan.
Hopeís journey begins in the small cabin where she has been employed to care for the cantankerous Loyalist Mrs. Block who is unable to feed or bathe herself, even though she manages to rule her small domain with an iron fist. Her son Ephraimís wife has left him and he is trying to petition for losses incurred at the hands of American rebels who drove them out of their home and profitable business in upstate New York.
For her part, Hope seeks the assistance of a friend of the family to write a letter of inquiry to the General under whom her father and eldest brother served during the Revolution. When Mrs. Block dies suddenly, Hope is free to continue her journey of discovery. Armed with her wages, some assistance from Ephraim Block, and her own courage, she sets out. Hope arrives in the newly-minted capital of Upper Canada only to find her father is ill and not inclined to accept that she is his daughter. Hope was born after her father and brothers left for military service; her father did not know her mother was pregnant. Hope returns to Kingston and discovers that her brother who deserted the army is in hiding under the floor of the very house she is visiting. The two arrange to leave together to find the father. Her brother has made his life with the Cherokee but wants to convince his father that Hope really is his daughter so she can know her heritage and perhaps inherit his 200 acre allotment from the military if he dies, so she can have a life of her own.
The authorís descriptions of life in Upper Canada just after the American Revolution are wonderfully accurate but perhaps interpreted with a much more contemporary view than people living at the time would have been able to consider. As a means of guiding younger readers to historical fiction, I can appreciate the au- thorís intentions, but for a more accurate interpretation, perhaps the author could leave a little more to the readerís own devices.
That being said, this series serves an important purpose in its distillation of events and the reactions of those living them. As a means of engaging readers in the 21st century, this works very well to bypass rhetoric and breathe some life into what laid the foundations for the Canada of today.
Reviewer: Lesley Little