Saskatoon StarPhoenix Review - Outcasts of River Falls
Reviewed by: Bev Brenna
Alberta author Jacqueline Guest's new novel Outcasts of River Falls (Coteau Books paperback; $9.95) is another fast-paced historical adventure story that explores the lives of members of a Metis Road Allowance community in 1901 Alberta. After their loss at Batoche when the Metis were branded renegades, people were forced to live on land adjacent to the roads which was owned by the government. This is the fictional story of Kathryn Marie Tourond, a 14-year old Ontario orphan who comes to live with her Aunt Belle. Kathryn discovers her Metis roots and the gifts embedded in the culture her father had disowned as well as the challenges - she is banned from attending the local school and despised by a would-be boyfriend when he discovers her heritage.
One great choice in Kathryn's character is that she is an avid reader of classical literature and manages to link her reading life to her daily activities. This operates as a device to remind readers of the historical time period of the novel and smartly contextualizes the formal speech patterns of that era. Richly detailed, the novel contains both a strong story and authentic historical facts - a difficult combination for authors to navigate but one Guest handles very well. Recommended for ages 11 and up.