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Reviewed by Brenda Casto for Readers' Favorite
Hank of Twin Rivers was such a delightful read that I hated to see it end. It's the story of young Hank Heaton, and takes place in 1855. Hank and his family live in a soddy along Buck Creek in a small Iowa settlement. It was the spring of that year when Hank was on the verge of turning twelve that his whole world changed. Young Hank lost his beloved mother and young sister Amanda to cholera. While Hank recovered from the dreaded ailment, he was troubled with a weakened leg, but the worst thing was the fact that his pa changed; he would no longer call Hank by his name, instead he called him 'boy.' There is one person Hank can rely on, his uncle Mac, who often softens the harshness that his father doles out. He does have a pet cow and is often plagued by a mean goose that loves to attack him. When his father decides to leave their home and head to Nebraska to homestead, Hank doesn't want to go but has no choice. Will they make it west, and what adventures await young Hank? One thing is for certain, Hank's life is about to change forever.
This young adult read is a wonderfully written adventure that allows readers to step back in time and travel along with Hank and his family as they move west. M.C. Arvanitis expertly creates a very endearing character in Hank, who fights his emotions because his pa says that Heaton men don't show their emotions in public, but young Hank certainly grieved the loss of his ma and sister. The descriptions of the characters and setting grabbed my imagination and wouldn't let go. The sights and sounds that are woven into the book, from a brush with Indians to the teasing that Nora inflicted upon Hank as they traveled together, flow so well that once I started reading the book I couldn't put it down. I found myself laughing out loud when the goose refused to stay behind, but also felt sadness when he had to give up his pet. I figured this story might be similar to Little House on the Prairie, but honestly it was richer, more detailed and realistic. There is struggle and hurt, but there is also joy and hope within the pages of this coming of age story. Perfect reading for young adults, but honestly I think it will appeal to adults as well. Hank of Twin Rivers is a story that left this reader anxious for the next book in the series!