Thursday, February 22, 2018

Hell and High Water by Tanya Landman - OPTIONAL

Landman, Tanya Hell and High Water 312 pages. Candlewick, 2015. $17.99. Language: PG (several mild swears), Mature Content: PG, Violence: PG.

Caleb and his father earn a living as street performers until the day his father is falsely charged with stealing and sent to jail. With nowhere else to go, Caleb journeys to the coast to move in with his aunt and her stepdaughter, Letty. Caleb is an outcast in the village because of his dark skin, but being accepted is soon to be the last of his problems.  When he stumbles upon a dead body on the beach, he recognizes it to be that of his father by the ring he wears. He tries to convince the village leaders of the body’s identity, but only Letty believes him. What follows is a cover-up and rampant corruption. Caleb is determined to solve the mystery, expose the corruption and restore his father’s good name.

The story is set in 1700s England. Caleb is bi-racial and there are questions surrounding his identity. I found myself fully engaged in the story. It is historical fiction, but also full of mystery and adventure. I loved reading about the description of life in a fishing village in the 1700s and the corruption that was common in those days. A wealthy landowner could successfully bribe everyone, including the religious leaders. I was stunned by the lack of justice. A great example of how refusing to conform and determination to seek justice can bring down the bad guys in the end. Will probably only appeal to kids who seek out historical fiction as their preferred genre.

 HS, MS – OPTIONAL. Reviewer: Valerie McEnroe, Media Specialist

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