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Author: Gensler, Sonia
When seventeen-year-old Willemina Hammond fakes credentials to get a teaching position at a school for Cherokee girls in nineteenth-century Oklahoma, she is haunted by the ghost of a drowned student.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG+
Reading Level: 5.30
Points: 11.0 Quiz: 144267
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 6-8
Reading Level: 5.20
Points: 19.0 Quiz: 63091
Kirkus Reviews (05/15/11)
School Library Journal (00/09/11)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (00/06/11)
Full Text Reviews:
Bulletin for the Center... - 06/01/2011 While working her way through boarding school at the end of the nineteenth century, Willemina receives a summons home from her mother, who is now unable to keep up with the work of the family farm. Unwilling to return to that mundane rural life, Willie instead steals a classmate’s identity and accepts a teaching position at the Cherokee Female Seminary-despite the fact that she is only seventeen herself, not even a high-school graduate, and certainly no teacher. When she arrives in Indian Territory, it soon becomes clear that she is not alone in keeping secrets: her students whisper about an unfortunate drowning accident that took a girl’s life last year, a fellow teacher alludes to an unhappy spirit, and Willie herself begins to hear an insistent tapping sound in her new room, the former residence of the river’s victim. Her beloved (but now deceased) father, however, always told Willie to keep her head about her and that she does, even when a note she uncovers in her dresser suggests that the accident may have actually been the result of foul play and that the dashingly handsome Eli Svenstar may be to blame. Stunningly taut and entirely compelling, this blend of historical fiction, supernatural mystery, and romance will please fans of Jennifer Donnelly and Saundra Mitchell. The intimidating halls of the Seminary, ruled by the iron-fisted Miss Crenshaw, provide the heated class wars and forbidden courtships that typify the best boarding-school mysteries. Though the focus stays mostly within the school itself, leaving the surrounding Cherokee culture largely unexplored, Gensler points towards a fair bit of research in her author’s note and portrays the students with respect and detail. Willie is a headstrong but tremendously flawed protagonist, and her status as both a hero and a liar, even at the close of the book, will make for some interesting discussion. KQG - Copyright 2011 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.
Booklist - 06/01/2011 When Willie is summoned from boarding school to help at home in 1896, she instead runs away to Indian Territory, assuming the identity and teaching post of a girl who is about to reject the job. Though Willie has not completed her own schooling, she knows that her experience will be ample for teaching at the Cherokee Female Seminary. But she finds that the students are much more cultured and educated than she expected, frequently outpacing her both socially and intellectually and challenging her teaching and interpersonal skills. Also testing her resolve are mysterious noises and sights, purportedly caused by the ghost of a lovelorn student who drowned and seems to be seeking justice—or revenge. This first novel effectively covers a good deal of ground: race and class issues, history, and a compelling ghost and love story are all entwined as plot points are teased out a bit at a time. The uncommon setting and time period add to the appeal, and an author’s note details the factual basis for the characters, issues, and story. - Copyright 2011 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 09/01/2011 Gr 7 Up—Revenants are usually portrayed as evil, power-filled, and terrifying. The "returned" presence in this novel seems somehow more human and harkens back to the idea of a spirit unable to rest because of unsettled violent circumstances of death. The story begins in 1896, when not-quite-graduated Willemina Hammond purloins a teaching certificate and escapes her demanding family by heading off to the Cherokee Female Seminary at Tahlequah, OK. Teaching under a false identity, Willie makes both friends and enemies at the school, and meets Eli Sevenstar and Larkin Bell, handsome students at the nearby male seminary. Her familiarity with Shakespeare, learned at the feet of her adored (and now deceased) father, stands her in good stead when her English classes put on a production of As You Like It. Early on, mysterious noises reveal that her bedroom was last occupied by a woman who drowned, and that's where the creepiness begins. The setting in Indian Territory lends historical interest, but basically this is a romantic mystery with considerable appeal. It seems a little odd that Willie's dreaded family turns out to be decent, hardworking folk in the end, but overall the story flows well with equal parts mystery, haunting, and romance. Those looking for bloodcurdling, gore-filled action are best directed elsewhere, but readers who have graduated from Mary Downing Hahn and Cynthia DeFelice, and current fans of Caroline B. Cooney and Diane Salerni's We Hear the Dead (Sourcebooks, 2010), will likely enjoy the romantic ghostliness of The Revenant.—Maggie Knapp, Trinity Valley School, Fort Worth, TX - Copyright 2011 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.