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The Ransom of Mercy Carter

Review

The Ransom of Mercy Carter

Caroline B. Cooney, author of WHAT JAMIE FOUND and THE FACE ON THE MILK CARTON, has successfully written another emotionally charged novel. I found it difficult to put down THE RANSOM OF MERCY CARTER, as I turned each page quickly, eager to find out what was happening to Mercy.

Mercy Carter lives in Deerfield, Massachusetts, which is the most remote settlement in the English colonies. It is 1704, and the threat of an Indian attack is very real. However, the weather is bitterly cold --- surely not even Indians would brave the frigid temperatures. But the townspeople fail to take into consideration that the French, with whom the English are at war, will aid the Indians.

During the night, Indians and French attack Deerfield, ripping children away from their parents, taking some adults and randomly killing other adults and their children. Forced to march over 300 miles to a Kahnawake Indian village in Canada, many will not survive the more than 40 days on the trail.

Mercy's emotions are at fever pitch as she struggles to survive and tries to save some of the children. Desperately she attempts to find out if her brothers are alive and where they have been taken. She dreams of the time that ransom will arrive to secure her release. However, as time goes by she is adopted and assimilated into the tribe as a daughter and finds that her adoptive Indian family is kind and caring. They teach her how to be happy, but most importantly, she learns about love and living as one with nature and the earth.

Ben Franklin at one time wondered which life was better, an Indian's or a settlers. He answered himself by saying, "Too much care and pain is necessary to support our type of life." Perhaps this answers the question that every adult English colonist asked, "Why and how did captive English children so readily become Indians?"

Mercy Carter wrestles with these same questions. Can she come to grips with her new identity, especially after she learns that her father is still alive? Will her ransom come in time to save her and allow her to remain an English child?

Caroline Cooney tells us in her Author's Notes that the characters and events are based on the Reverend John Williams's memoirs, family legends, letters from captives or their families, objects on display in the Deerfield Museum, and official records in Boston, Montreal, and Deerfield.

Reviewed by Audrey Marie Danielson on April 10, 2001

The Ransom of Mercy Carter
by Caroline B. Cooney

  • Publication Date: November 12, 2002
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Mass Market Paperback: 249 pages
  • Publisher: Laurel Leaf
  • ISBN-10: 0440227755
  • ISBN-13: 9780440227755