Genre: YA Fiction
Rating: 4 stars
Goodreads synopsis: Cass feels the long winter shadows on her heart. Her mother died of cancer and her father has remarried a woman who has moved into their old Manitoba house with her nasty, babyish daughter and an attitude that’s very hard to take. Christmas promises to be a miserable time.
More than a century earlier, Christmas is proving to be difficult for Beatrice, too, for she has shadows of her own. Some are cast by her circumstances. She sees the growing prejudice against people like her who are of mixed Cree and Scottish backgrounds. And like Cass, she has a stepmother. Her father’s new wife is threatened by Beatrice and is driving a wedge into the family. Beatrice can only be sure of her beloved Cree grandmother, relegated to a room upstairs. When a way of escape presents itself to Beatrice by way of an eligible bachelor, she is torn by the choice it offers her. Should she settle for a man she doesn’t love or address the problems at home? Through her journal, she explores the answer and, at the same time, inspires Cass to find the strength she needs to face her own situation. Margaret Buffie’s great skill as a storyteller creates a splendid, engaging novel that offers readers a rich combination of fine history, suspenseful shifts in time, and unforgettable characters.
First I’d like to say that I won a copy of this as a member of the Early Reviewers group on Librarything, in exchange for an impartial review.
This was a heart-wrenching book to read. It was so well-written I could really empathise with the characters. I lost my father early, and I fought tooth and nail against my mother’s husband (notice, even now I can’t call him my step-father) taking the place of my father. I didn’t even want my father’s twin to take his place (even though in his own way he did, and did very well!). I felt Cass’ grief for her mother, the guilt that she carried, and the animosity towards her step-mother. On the other hand, the author starts to show the little ways in which Cass’ step-mother really is trying, and failing horribly most times, to mend their relationship.
And then you’ve got Beatice’s story overlapping Cass’. How horrible it must have been to face such racism and ignorance, and have to continue day after day with your head held high. The author did a very good job of melding two unique stories into one.
The part I liked the most was my own love of genealogy. I would love to meet some of my female ancestors! Phoebe Newton, if you’re out there and you can contact me (even though you were born in the 1770s), I would love to know your story! *big grin*