Booklist - 12/06

Gray, Dianne E. Tomorrow, the River. 2006. 256p. Houghton, $16 (0-618-56329-6).  Gr. 6–9.

Set in 1896 and rooted in details of hard daily work, this novel, which follows 14-year-old Megan, who leaves her Nebraska home to help her sister Hannah’s family on an boat journey, is both a survival adventure and a realistic coming-of-age story. There’s even a touch of romance. The writer’s research sometimes overwhelms the story as the young girl learns to fish, steer the boat, treat her brother-in-law’s gangrene, and more. But fans of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books will enjoy the details of pioneer life on the boat and on the shore. The characters are beautifully drawn; the warm relationship between the sisters is especially well handled. But best of all is Megan’s coming of age. Even as she hears her mother’s disapproving voice and toils tending the clam cooker covered in slime and grease, she discovers her gift for photography; and, with the support of a loving young man, dares to dream of a career with a camera. ––Hazel Rochman