a Kesk8a story
In this sometimes humorous, sometimes deadly serious account of life in 1670–80s Acadia when the Newcomers attempted to foist their ways onto The People, Keskoua, a Mi’gmaw girl, takes us into her world where murder and deceit mean nothing to those who come from away.
“Some of [the newcomers] had taken up the lonely life of trapping because they couldn’t stand the lonely life of civilization. Some of them were running from women, from the fathers of women, from lawmen, or from each other. On the rough side, all of them were at least a little bit crazy whether they had started out that way or not.”
Sherrill Wark, the author, a descendant of “the Frenchman Claude Guidry,” brings us on a journey of enlightenment through the eyes of a resilient people determined to survive against almost unbearable challenges.
“… life among the Mi’gmaw near Port Royal as told by a ‘pain in the arse’ teenage girl named Keskoua. From the first paragraph to the last, Keskoua’s storytelling keeps the reader involved. If it were in present time, it would be dubbed a ‘coming of age’ story. In the late seventeenth century, ‘coming of age’ isn’t that simple for young women----or young men for that matter. Early marriage, death from childbirth, murder and disappearances are common occurrences. Sherrill Wark has managed to give a raw yet entertaining glimpse into life in early Acadia without sacrificing authenticity of fact. History as it should be taught.”—Phyllis Bohonis
I loved to get her going so I could watch her eyes flashing at me like I was Father Soucy’s Devil that he was always talking about.
“You wouldn’t know what to do anyways,” she said. “You never laid with a man.” She was talking to me like she was many, many winters older than I was but she was only two winters older.
“I see… And you did. You know all about it.”
Her face went all red. “Of course not.”
“Of course not? Feather—whose name should really be Oh Look That Soldier Is So Handsome—is telling me that she didn’t lay with that special man of hers yet?” I was getting to her good. I had to walk faster to keep up with her now. “Isn’t telling an untruth one of those things the Father is always talking about? What does he call them? Ah, les péchés. Sins.”
“Of course it is. And it’s a bigger sin to lay with a man. And stop calling me Feather.”READ MORE
“We are getting impatient to become women, alors, nous devons nous dépêcher à commettre des péchés. E'e? Yes?”
“Stop with your poésie absurde. That doesn’t even make sense. ‘We must hurry to commit sins.’ What kind of nonsense is that? You’ll never be any good as a storyteller if you go around making up things like that all the time.”
“I was making a joke,” I said. “Dépêcher … des péchés…?”
She didn’t react other than to walk faster.COLLAPSE
"This young adult historical murder mystery is told by Kesk8a (Keskoua), a 13 year old aboriginal Mi'gmaw girl apprentice story-teller, set in Canadian l'Acadie during the early 17th century in what is now Port Royal, Nova Scotia, on the Bay of Fundy. It includes Keskoua's coming-of-age story, reflecting aboriginal life and the universal concerns of all young people passing into adulthood that is sometimes funny and often grim. Making use of well-paced dialogue Keskoua shares her discovery of the contemporary 17th French "Newcomer" ways of living as portrayed by Claude Guidry, the local coureurs des bois, some more wild than others, and Father Soucy. She speaks honestly portraying her characters in an engaging, entertaining voice. Her story unwinds from her adolescent point of view, varying in pace, giving the little back stories of all the characters, Mi'gmaw and French, needed to understand the overall mystery and its satisfying denouement. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this well-researched book by Sherrill Wark and I hope there will be a sequel somewhere in the future."
5 out of 5 stars