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Salt: A Story of Friendship in a Time of War

Review

Salt: A Story of Friendship in a Time of War

The setting for the story is in and around Fort Wayne in the Indiana Territory, just before the start of the Battle of 1812. Pioneers have settled into the area, but there is much talk of a great battle brewing, pitting the settlers against the British. Tenuous friendships have been forged between some Indian tribes and some settlers, but these ties are threatened with impending conflict.

James is a young boy whose parents run the trading post for the settlement fort. He lives in his house, which is inside the stockade but outside the walls of the actual fort, with his parents and his baby sister. He has made friends with a young Miami Native American boy named Anikwa.

"The story is beautifully written and helps illustrate how people from different cultures can misinterpret actions that lead to conflicts and wars."

Anikwa lives in Kekionga, which is near the fort, with his family in the Miami tribe. His parents were killed in a previous, skirmish and he is being raised by his family’s relatives.

James and Anikwa spend many happy hours together, learning about each other’s culture. They have learned a few words of each other’s native tongue, but they communicate mostly through sign language.

Anikwa is friends with another Native American boy named Kwaahkwa. James is friend with another pioneer boy named Isaac. Isaac doesn’t trust the Native Americans and Kwaahkwa doesn’t trust the settlers. Both Aniwka and James try to ignore their friends.

But as tension rises between the two cultures, Anikwa and James start to distrust each other, too, due mainly to series of misunderstandings perpetuated by language barriers.

The trading post and James’ house is set on fire. A large portion of the woods around the fort also burns, including Anikwa’s village. James and his family must rebuild, as must Anikwa and his tribe. Confused by the events, Anikwa questions his grandma. She says, “Grief gathered kindling. Fear struck the flint. Anger fans the flames.”

The story is beautifully written and helps illustrate how people from different cultures can misinterpret actions that lead to conflicts and wars.

Author Helen Frost, presents the story from two unique perspectives. First, it is told from viewpoints of both of the boys, alternating chapters between them. Second, the text is in poetic form, with each chapter taking the form of one short poem (with different poetic forms used for each character). Each event in the story, told through a series of alternating chapters, is separated by a poem about salt. Salt was very important to both the Native Americans and the settlers. Various treaties between the two gave ownership to land with salt deposits that were previously owned by tribes, thus making the Native Americans pay for something vital to their existence that they once accessed free.

I’m not a big history buff, but I do very much like stories that bring a human aspect to an issue. I don’t like a list of facts and figures; give me personal ideals, conflicts and reasons for the events that took place. Frost does an excellent job of doing so.

Reviewed by Christine M. Irvin on July 18, 2013

Salt: A Story of Friendship in a Time of War
by Helen Frost

  • Publication Date: December 1, 2015
  • Genres: Historical Fiction
  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Square Fish
  • ISBN-10: 1250062896
  • ISBN-13: 9781250062895