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Reviewed by Karen Pirnot for Readers' Favorite
The Spruce Gum Box is author Elizabeth Wilder's debut novel and she has tweaked the imagination of readers with interest in the cultural and historical development of the state of Maine. Set by the Aroostook River in a disputed area bordering Nova Scotia, a young British man falls in love with the daughter of a wealthy lumber industry executive. Their love is forbidden, and when a child is conceived and born out of wedlock, the young man Jed is faced with having to protect his infant son and himself from retaliation and certain death.
As boundary issues are pursued between the United States and Great Britain, Jed happens upon a settlement of Micmac Indians who befriend and protect him. In kind, Jed learns Native American ways and he grows to be an important member of the Micmac community. When the tribe attempts to explore getting into the lumbering business in order to protect the interests of the tribe, Jed is instrumental in assisting the Micmacs toward their goal of becoming independent land owners.
The author obviously engaged in considerable research for this novel and, as a result, it is a pleasure to read, both from an historical and a cultural aspect. Ms. Wilder writes well, and her characters are interesting and well developed. She weaves Native American habits and spirit into her story, and she does it in such a manner that her characters are both believable and endearing to the reader. This book would be a good read for anyone wanting to learn about Native American populations who fought to keep the land on which their ancestors thrived.