Nan's Journey - Review
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Elaine. (2007) Nan’s Journey. OK: Tate
Publishing. ISBN 978-1602478329 . Author recommends age
13+. Litland recommends age 15+.
and bleeding fifteen year old Nan escaped from an
abusive home with her five-year-old brother in tow. In
her character driven novel, Nan’s Journey, author Elaine
Littau introduces intriguing characters with complex
challenges. Nan and Elmer find their world spinning out
of control as their situation grows from bad to worse.
When Fred Young, a disgruntled preacher-turned mountain
man, reaches out to help them; he finds hope renewed in
his own life. This fast paced page turner is part
romance/part suspense. Readers of any age will enjoy,
Nan’s Journey, which is set in the 1800’s yet speaks to
issues many people face today
Respect for self and others: This
includes integrity (adherence to a code of
conduct or value system), honesty vs. manipulation or
lying, compassion, caring for others (characters not
focused on getting their way no matter what) self
respect--main character does not let others
denigrate him or her; use of self control and
self-discipline ; taking charge of own behaviour;
fairness to others (such as taking turns and
avoiding the blame game). Reader should ask themselves
“How does the protagonist depict their peers?” “Would
you want others to treat you this way? Should everyone
act this way?” This includes true friendships
that do not involve regular lying, deceit or
manipulation; considering consequences of actions
prior to acting; owning up to responsibility once
an action has been taken.
Nan exemplifies the love
of an older sister to a younger brother. It is common in
stories to see the older sibling take care of the
younger when they are alone to battle the world
together, but this too often is mere desperation of
having no one else to trust. Contrary to that, we see
Nan’s constant attention to Elmer, with Elmer returning
that love through obedience and helpfulness. Throughout
the story, characters maintain open and honest
communications with one another which alleviates pain
Honor is also a strong
theme throughout the story. It is particularly a part of
Fred’s character, who embodies the “code” of a gentleman
from that time period.
Portrayal of Authority
figures: The positive portrayal of parents, teachers, police officers and other “good” authority figures common in a child’s life is a positive influence upon the child’s own moral development. This includes
actively-parenting mother and father figures. Minimization of parental involvement in the character’s activities or the portrayal of authority figures as
inferior present poor role models. Also to be avoided are main characters that
deceive parents and teachers to accomplish goals, and overuse
sarcasm towards authority figures. Ask yourself “Are parents seen as positive or negative influence in the character's life?”
The portrayal of authority figures is exemplary.
Throughout the story, key characters exhibit unwavering
strength in doing the right thing. As such, there is
clear hierarchy between adult and child, and with it
clear examples of good parenting, keen friendship (such
as the doctor’s recurring role), necessary to building
Patriotism: Loyalty to family, team or group, school, community and world; caring for and being considerate of these
groups. Pride to be part of that group or nationality.
Nan has an unbending
loyalty to her birth family (mama and pa) and, as such,
to her brother Elmer. She is worried Elmer could die and
he is the last tie she has to her full family. Later,
Fred shows loyalty to his new family with Nan, Teddy and
Elmer pledging to spend time with them rather than being
on the road with revivals.
Justice and Balance: A just distribution between good and evil (with
good outweighing evil in the presence of the storyline);
demonstration of right and wrong; making decisions to enact the above values rather than simply choosing from two bad possibilities; Ask yourself “Is the emphasis on the positive elements or negative?”
The story is
centered on overcoming severe instances of evil acts in
one’s life. Nan experiences many events, any one of
which might destroy her for life. Yet the impact of good
parenting upon her as a youth plays out in her
perseverance to seek normalcy and completeness, which
she ultimately finds in a family centered in God. At
each instance of suffering, we see good people come
forth who bring her out of it.
Aesthetic aspects Of
life ExperienceLook for a storyline portrayal of
beauty, health, and selfless love vs. hedonistic behaviours (sexuality, selfishness, obsessiveness, materialism),
profanity, gore and violence. Are nature and environment respected or exploited? Look for
dark elements; watch out for humor that is negative, denigrates others excessively, uses metaphors to
denigrate the sacred.
Although the vocabulary is not quite true to the time
period for a historical fiction, its descriptors help us
to feel both the physical and emotional pain suffered by
Nan. It is centered in the beautiful Colorado Rockies,
occasionally touched upon.
Other things to
Consider:Other aspects of this book of interest or importance. For example, does it portray Wiccan practices and accurate use of tools of which some parents might object, does it contain
hidden meanings in metaphors that may prove offensive to some families; does it address
personal issues such as puberty or pregnancy.
By chapter 11 Nan is brutally raped, beaten, wrapped
naked in blanket with rope tied around her barefoot and
taken as the property of the moutainmen who kidnap her.
The story handles this with appropriate language and no
unnecessary dwelling upon the details of the act itself.
However, it is a powerful scene and remains a central
focus for most of the story. Some other violence
occurs, such as a dog beaten to death. Families with
younger teens will need to decide on the appropriateness
of the storyline within their Family Do-Re-Mi’s.
So what do YOU think? Read our thoughts on the book and join in the discussion:
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