There comes a time in every child’s life when they must step from being a child into adulthood. Watching this process is not always easy. I know. I have a 19-year-old son struggling with this right now. In a book for young adults, One Traveler, Alison Treat has captured the essence of the mistakes, indecision, and immaturity of that time.
Main character, seventeen-year-old Sidney Judson has reached that crossroads in his life. Actually, he got a shove into it. His parents have died. He could have gone on as usual, dating a neighborhood girl, planning on marriage, and living on his Georgia Southern plantation. Instead he made a wise choice of coping with his loss by spending time with family in Pennsylvania.
After arriving in Pennsylvania, Sidney discovers that his uncle helps with the Underground Railroad! Sidney is confronted with the conflict of Northern beliefs versus Southern beliefs on the issue of slavery. Next, the Civil War is upon him and he must make more choices. All of this adds up to an exciting story with mystery, suspense, and surprises.
Characterization in One Traveler is very good. The main character, Sidney, makes some good choices and some bad. He also has to make a decision about the girl he left at home. His feelings about a certain Northern girl confuse him. The chatty preacher’s daughter is endearing, and the story even has a villain. Loving aunt and uncle aren’t perfect people either, but I found myself rooting for them.
Mrs. Treat did an excellent job of keeping the romantic part decent. A few swear words caused me pause. I don’t like to read any, but the book contains less than a handful.
I find history so much fun to learn through the vehicle of historical fiction. The historical subject and setting, the Underground Railroad in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, drew me. When Sidney and his family chose different sides and a battle took place, I cringed. Wrapped up in the story, I felt like I had loved ones fighting there. After reading the book, I found I knew more about the Underground Railroad and the events leading to the start of the Civil War. Who needs a time machine when good historical fiction is available!
This book is as good as any written by Ann Rinaldi, in fact, a little better. I find Ann Rinaldi descends a little too far into darkness, at times. Although it is classified YA (Young Adult Fiction), this senior citizen enjoyed it immensely. One Traveler by Alison Treat would make a great present for the teen in your life who loves to read or who has to read to build a book list to show an evaluator. Check out One Traveler on Amazon.com.
P.S. I just found out that Mrs. Treat is a product of homeschooling. That makes her book even more special to this homeschool mama!