Picked it up a church rummage sale, I was looking for something a little different from what I’ve been reading. “Fort Dearborn”, classified as historical fiction, combines historical facts with a story of two boys from different camps. Author Jerry Crimmins did considerable research from letters of survivors, newspaper reports and military reports, then added a story about two boys coming of age one Indian one white.
Crimmins gets the reader started with Fort Dearborn being located at what is now the corner of Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive in the City of Chicago, and the Chicago River was named for the wild onions that grew in the area. A trading post was established by Jean Baptiste Point de Sable, a black man part french and married to a Potawatomi woman, in the 1780’s. Point de Sable picked the location because of the rivers, that after a short portage would connect the Great Lakes with the Mississippi river. The soldiers arrived and began to build Fort Dearborn in August of 1803.
I thought it would be fun to read about life in the fort and the trading business of that time. Here is a bit of a spoiler, the book doesn’t have a happy ending. Using historical fact can be a bit hard for a “happily ever after” finish. Considered a boys adventure novel I found the last chapters to be to realistic for young readers. Lets face it, the book doesn’t end well for either of the two boy characters. But I may be underestimating young readers. I noticed that at a point Crimmins uses foreshadowing in the story line. I felt this was unnecessary and juvenile.
Looking for a different experience in reading I found what I was looking for. Written for a more youthful reader “Fort Dearborn” gives insight into what life for boy’s age 8 through 16 in a wilderness frontier could have been. Not a favorite book but still worth the time spent in reading. Decide for yourself if you would want to read this to a young person.
Up next, back to my book shelf and another Tana French, “Broken Harbor”.
Until next time, look outside your comfort zone.