Daughter of Winter
Pat Lowery Collins
Set in the winter of 1849 in the shipbuilding town of Essex, Massachusetts, Daughter of Winter is an engaging survival story about twelve-year old Addie and her search to discover just who she is. Addie’s father travels west to seek gold, leaving his family behind. When the flux takes the lives her mother and brother, Addie is suddenly left all alone. Afraid of being forced to go live with another family and of becoming a glorified servant, she takes to the woods, hiding from the town’s people when they come to get her. In the woods, she meets a Wampanoag woman who takes her in, and slowly Addie’s past unfolds.
I really enjoyed this book. It was an easy, fast-paced read that was chock full of historical details embedded seamlessly into the story. Each character brought different information to the reader. Addie’s best friend allows the reader to learn some shipbuilding details. Her teacher, not only lets the reader understand how one room schools worked, but also gives a glimpse of how the Irish were treated in 1840s Massachusetts. Nokummus, the old Indian lady, lets the reader understand her culture through her simple actions of everyday living.
Another aspect that I love about Pat’s writing is her ability to make you feel like you are right there with Addie. Her descriptions of Addie’s struggles to build a fire or the icy cold water of the bay hitting her face are very evocative, and I could easily imagine myself there with Addie, cold and hungry. I always managed to get pulled into each scene. I noticed this in Hidden Voices, and it stood out again in this book. Pat has an amazing gift with words when it comes to painting a scene and drawing the reader in.
I’d call this a coming of age novel. It’s definitely a historical story about adventure and survival but throughout the novel each scene moves Addie closer to discovering just who she is. She grows as a character and in the end the decisions she makes are truly hers. Addie is a character that the reader can easily like and root for. She’s strong but still vulnerable. She’s courageous and proud but still able to accept help when she really needs it. Daughter of Winter is worth the read. Pat’s magical way with descriptions will bring the past to life, and Addie is sure to tug at the reader’s heartstrings and have them rooting for her until the end!