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GRAY, Dianne E. Tomorrow, the river. Houghton Mifflin. 256p. c2006. 0-618-56329-6. $16.00. J
Fourteen-year-old Megan climbs aboard an eastbound train leaving Nebraska and heads for an adventure on the Mississippi River. She is going to join her sister Hannah, her sister's husband Isaac, and their son on the small riverboat, the Oh My. Hannah and Isaac make a modest living delivering goods along the northern part of the river, through Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois, before wintering in New Orleans. The year is 1896 and Megan meets dreamy young men and big-time hustlers on the train journey and on the voyage of the Oh My. Once Megan joins her sister, she learns Isaac has seriously injured his leg in an accident. Without much of a lesson on the differences between the prairie and the river, Megan finds herself not only taking care of her young nephew, but also piloting the boat. When the family needs some financial support while docked for an extended period of time, she goes to work cleaning clamshells to be sold to the button factories.
The chapters are introduced by newspaper clippings, which provide additional details that the first-person narrator couldn't know. This is a sweet adventure story with an innocent, hard-working protagonist who helps her older sister in this time of crisis. Readers will appreciate Megan's determination and her willingness to do what is right. Janis Flint-Ferguson, Assoc. Prof., English, Gordon College, Wenham, MA
J--Recommended for junior high school students. The contents are of particular interest to young adolescents and their teachers.