Wednesday, February 22, 2017

MacColl, Michaela. The Lost Ones.

MacColl, Michaela.  The Lost Ones.  Boyd’s Mills/Calkins Creek  2016  255p          $17.95  ISBN 978-1-62091-625-4     ms       Historical fiction  VG-BN          

Based on the true story of two young Apache children who ended up at the Carlisle Indian School back in the 1800s, this novel fills in the many gaps of their story using fictional text that is research-based as well as “imagination”-based.  With due diligence, author Michaela MacColl describes life in El Remolino, Mexico, with an Apache tribe called Cuelcahen Nde.  In 1877, the tribe was all but obliterated when the U. S. Cavalry crossed the border to attack.  Young Casita and her brother, Jack, end up at a fort in Texas where a young couple takes them in and shows them their Indaa ways.  Casita wants to keep her memories of life with her tribe alive, yet finds herself more and more assimilated into life with Mollie Smith and her husband Captain Smith.  Jack resists until he is welcomed into an elite group of caregivers for the horses.  Once he proves his mettle, he jumps wholeheartedly into the white man’s world.  The descriptions of the Apache ways, the wonderful setting, and the backdrop of actual events provides a solid, interesting, almost 3-D look at the history surrounding MacColl’s plot.  When Casita and Jack are sent to the Carlisle School in Pennsylvania, they understand how their past does not have to be forgotten just because they have become Indaa in actions and appearance.  Descriptions of life at the school are as interesting as they could be, especially the ones about founder Richard Pratt, a believer in killing the savage emotionally and spiritually. This story is an example of the type of literature that will engage middle-level readers who love historical fiction but also like action.  Its value lies in the enjoyment of a story told in Casita’s voice, a voice that reveals the conflicts these children have when they were taken and assimilated, while trying to hold onto their rich, tradition-based native culture.             

Summary: When the tribal warriors are away, the U. S. Cavalry attacks, burning or killing everything that Casita and her brother Jack have known.  Showing remarkable resilience, the two children are “adopted” by Mollie and Charles Smith, and they find a place for themselves at the fort.  However, life changes again for them, this time sending them to Carlisle, PA, to a school for Indians.       

Carlisle School-Fiction, American Indians-Fiction                                                     —Martha Squaresky

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