Calico Captive by Elizabeth George Speare was first published in 1957. I read it for the first time when I was in third grade. I was determined to read everything my twelve-year-old sister read. I was seven and not allowed to check this out at our school library as it was in the section for the older readers, but my teacher went to bat for me and talked the librarian into letting me get it.
Books in the allowed section for my age would only last me a few minutes or a day at the most. This one would take me three days to read, and because we could only get one book at each visit, my teacher wanted me to be satisfied for a while. I checked this book out several times during that year and got to really know Miriam and her struggles.
This novel is based on a true story. I recently listened to the audio version of this book and found that I still enjoyed the story. Miriam is portrayed realistically. She is often selfish and vain, yet at heart she is good and kind.
Blurb from Barnes and Noble:
"In the year 1754, the stillness of Charlestown, New Hampshire, is shattered by the terrifying cries of an Indian raid. Young Miriam Willard, on a day that had promised new happiness, finds herself instead a captive on a forest trail, caught up in the ebb and flow of the French and Indian War.
It is a harrowing march north. Miriam can only force herself to the next stopping place, the next small portion of food, the next icy stream to be crossed. At the end of the trail waits a life of hard work and, perhaps, even a life of slavery. Mingled with her thoughts of Phineas Whitney, her sweetheart on his way to Harvard, is the crying of her sister’s baby, Captive, born on the trail."
This book started my love of realistic fiction and historical fiction. I liked seeing how people in bad situations handled their problems. Several months after reading this book, I read Jane Eyre for the first time - again because my big sister read it first and I idolized my sister.
I find it interesting to re-read books from my early days as a reader and see if my opinion has changed. As a girl, I didn't find Miriam selfish or vain because I hadn't yet become a mother. Reading it this time made me feel that Miriam should have been more concerned about her nieces and nephew. But the other me also realizes that Miriam was only a girl and couldn't see things through her older sister eyes.
What book have you re-read as an adult and what was your take on it after reading with new eyes?