Reviewed by Karen Pirnot for Readers' Favorite
In Daughter of Winter, author Pat Collins has provided an exciting glimpse into mid nineteenth-century New England. Twelve year old Addie lives in Essex, Massachusetts with her parents and younger brother Jack. Addie's father elects to go by ship to California to seek a fortune in gold, leaving his wife and children alone to survive a harsh New England winter. Addie has a close friend, John, with whom she confides her hopes and fears; but then, illness takes her mother and brother, and Addie feels alone and afraid. She finds a coffin for her kin and then elects to go to school and resume normal activities, fearing that if the adults discover her plight, she will be sent to live in the home of an adult and virtually become a housekeeper.
Addie is not able to fool her friend John; and when he discovers her secret life, she elects to run away and fend for herself. She finds a shack in which she can live for awhile; but then again, she becomes in danger of being discovered and leaves for the unknown. Strange occurrences begin, and it appears that an old Native American woman is looking out for her. This begins a journey of self-discovery and cultural exploration. In time, Addie's "secret" becomes even bigger as she comes into her own as a teenager and a young woman.
The book is a delight to read due to its sense of personal efficacy on the part of the main character, Addie. The Indian woman is also a mysterious and forceful character on her own. Together, Addie and the Native American explore the depths of their own needs and a sense of cohesiveness that is a joy for young readers.