The Primrose Way
by
Jackie French Koller
(Harcourt Brace - Hardcover ISBN: 0-15-256745-3 - Paperback ISBN: 0-15-200372-X)
THE PRIMROSE WAY (Harcourt Brace) - Historical Fiction Novel, grades 5 up:
When Rebekah follows her father to the New World in 1633 she hopes for
adventure, but finds much more than she imagined, and forbidden love too!
VOYA Review: In 1633, sixteen year old Rebekah Hall joins her widower father at a small, newly
established Puritan settlement in New England. The settlers' mission includes converting the
"savages" to Puritan Christianity. The same intelligence that allows Rebekah to quickly adapt to her
new surroundings also creates the friction of this novel. Educated beyond the average girl by her
invalid mother, Rebekah seeks to explore her new world, to enjoy all the sights and experiences it
offers. Under the guise of converting the local Native American tribe, Rebekah makes friends with
Qunnequawese, the chief's niece. The two girls learn much about the other's way of life. The more
she learns about the Indians' lifestyle, the more Rebekah is confused. She begins to wonder if they
need the Puritan's salvation and even questions just who are the savages - the Europeans or the
Indians. Her fascination with the local tribe and her difficulty in subduing her independent nature
convinces some of the Puritans that Rebekah is headed down "the primrose way" (i.e., to hell), To
compound the problem, she falls in love with Mishannock, the tribe's young holy man, a love he
returns. Rebekah finally admits the truth of her love when a smallpox epidemic wipes out all but
three of the tribe. She decides to return to England because she knows the adults will never allow
her to marry Mishannock. But her friend and a wise sailing captain help her obtain her heart's true
love. Koller has given us a beautiful story of a young woman's search for her identity. Her carefully
researched descriptions of early Massachusetts breathe fresh life into an often obscure period of
history. She seamlessly weaves facts and fiction into a wondrous tapestry. History and fiction are
separated in an afterward. Glossaries of Puritan and Algonquian terms and a bibliography follow, I
would have preferred a mention of the glossaries up front as an aid. Recommend this book to
teachers to supplement dry as dust U.S. history texts, to read for women's studies, to explore
multiculturalism, and to continue the debate over whether Columbus was a hero or harbinger of
death. Recommend this book to young adults who enjoy good historical fiction, who question the
boundaries imposed upon them by others, and who need information about the period for class
reports.-- Esther Sinofsky.
* "[Koller] seamlessly weaves facts and fiction into a wondrous tapestry." ---Voya 5Q (full review
below

* "Rebekah's attraction to Pawtucket ways---as well as to Mishannock---forces her choice between
two cultures... A rousing good tale." ---Kirkus

*"This novel, along with Speare's
The Sign of the Beaver (Houghton 1983) could be used for
discussions of the historical clash of cultures in the U.S." ---School Library Journal

* American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults

* NYPL Book for the Teen Age

* Nominee 1996-97 Virginia Young Reader’s Award

* Nominee 1996-97 Utah Young Adult Book Award