About Puritan Girl, Mohawk Girl
Inspired by Demos’s award-winning novel The Unredeemed Captive, Puritan Girl, Mohawk Girl will captivate a young audience, providing a Native American perspective rather than the Western one typically taught in the classroom.
As the armed conflicts between the English colonies in North America and the French settlements raged in the 1700s, a young Puritan girl, Eunice Williams, is kidnapped by Mohawk people and taken to Canada. She is adopted into a new family, a new culture, and a new set of traditions that will define her life. As Eunice spends her days learning the Mohawk language and the roles of women and girls in the community, she gains a deeper understanding of her Mohawk family. Although her father and brother try to persuade Eunice to return to Massachusetts, she ultimately chooses to remain with her Mohawk family and settlement.
Though this book is classified as historical fiction, I thought the style of the writing was much more like a biography or nonfiction narrative. The story follows a much more bird’s-eye view of Eunice’s life and sometimes jumps away to catalogue her family’s reactions to various news and moments. That said, I found the story captivating as it followed a girl so young and the transformation of her ideas and identity as she grew up. I liked that the author clarifies in a note at the end of the book which parts were based on true historical documentation and which were filled in using traditions of the English or Mohawk at the time the events took place.
I think Puritan Girl, Mohawk Girl would make a great supplement to a U.S. History curriculum for fourth or fifth grade readers. It focuses on some interesting relationships—not only the English versus the French, but Protestants versus Catholics and settlers versus Native American ways or beliefs.
Eunice is an English girl. A Mohawk family adopts her. She marries a Mohawk man. Though the story follows much of her time in a Mohawk settlement, the story remains from Eunice or her biological family’s perspectives.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Brief, mild profanity used very infrequently to reference someone being cursed by God.
Eunice feels attracted to a young Mohawk man.
Eunice was raised by a Protestant minister who values preserving her faith. At that time, Protestants and Catholics were at war (the English were at war with the French) and there was a massive campaign to convert any prisoners captured as part of the war. Eunice’s father worries terribly about her becoming a Catholic and that such a conversion would damn her soul.
During her life with the Mohawks, Eunice learns both Catholic ways and the traditional beliefs of the Mohawk people. She listens to stories about how the world was made and the afterlife from an elder of the tribe.
Eunice and her family are captured initially as part of a battle between the English and French, with whom the Mohawk have allied themselves. She witnesses the dead body of her servant and a baby—killed by Mohawk warriors. Later, Mohawk take her mother into the woods to kill her when it’s clear she is unable to keep up with the party as they travel. They return alone, and Eunice understands what has happened and grieves.