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Brenda Bellingham.
Toronto, ON: James Lorimer, 1985.
124pp., paper, $5.95.
ISBN 0-88862-793-9. cloth, $12.95. ISBN 0-88862-794-7. Time of Our Lives. CIP.

Grades 5-8 / Ages 10-13

Reviewed by Margaret Montgomery.

Volume 14 Number 2
1986 March

One hundred and fifty years ago, western Canada was the domain of native people, fur traders, and the many children of mixed blood who were the result of the unions between the fur traders and the Indian women. Isobel is one such child, a thirteen-year-old whose father was a Scottish carpenter who worked at the Hudson's Bay Company fur trading fort and whose mother was a beautiful Piegan Indian woman. Shortly after the novel opens, Isobel's father goes off with the boats laden with a winter's furs, and he does not return to Fort Edmonton in the fall. Instead of joining her mother in the home of one of the other company employees, Isobel goes to live with her maternal grandparents, having decided she will emphasize her Indian side, not the white.

Besides Isobel's inner conflicts over her mixed heritage, and her adolescent turmoil and rebellion, the story incorporates ths antagonism between the Hudson's Bay Company traders and the American fur traders, as well as the fighting between the Piegan and Cree tribes. There is a warm friendship between Isobel and Henry Rowand, the son of the Chief Factor, a friendshup that promises to blossom into romance. By the end of the novel, Isobel has accepted her dual heritage, and has decided to go to school in the Red River settlement so that she will learn all she possibly can from the white culture as well as from her mother's people with the hope that she might become some sort of link between her two worlds.

The novel has definite curriculum value wherever the fur trade is taught; students and teacher might enjoy this novel read aloud, following along on a map. There is action and adventure in these pages, even though the author was a little too determined, a little too eager to pack information into the pages along with her story. However, the story still reads along nicely. The paper binding is a sturdy one, and the cover is bright and interesting. There are no illustrations inside, but there is a map of the area involved, with routes marked.

Margaret Montgomery, Vernon, BC.
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