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The Lynching of Louie Sam


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About the Author

Elizabeth Stewart's writing credits for film, television, and the Internet include the TV movie "Luna: Spirit of the Whale" (2007) and the series "Falcon Beach," "Edgemont," and "The Adventures of Shirley Holmes." This is her first novel. She lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.


Gr 6-9-George Gillies, 15, witnesses a lynching the night he follows a mob of settlers to the International Border between the Washington Territory and Canada. Intent on justice for the murder of a white man, the mob seizes an Indian boy who is in the custody of Canadian officials and suspected of the crime. It is February 27, 1884, and the relationship between the Native tribes and settlers is tense. George, moved by the anger and excitement of the mob, ignores observations that support Louie Sam's innocence, choosing to believe that justice has been served. After the lynching, he encounters rumors and pieces of evidence that leave him confused. Has the mob murdered an innocent 14-year-old? Almost everyone in his town seems determined to bury the truth: Who actually murdered Mr. Bell, who led the mob, and what actually happened the night of the lynching? Eventually George cannot continue to conceal what he knows, and the consequences for him and his family are severe. Stewart takes on the daunting task of reflecting the period's social history through a single incident, and sometimes her characters must represent large and disparate groups of people. This can lead to didactic moments, especially when the Native American characters speak, but it also serves as context for a little-known and disturbing true story. The plot moves quickly and should interest many readers, even those not usually drawn to historical fiction. The violence and tragedy are balanced by a bit of romance, which will make this title a good recommendation for middle school and early high school readers.-Caroline Hanson, Thurgood Marshall Academy Public Charter High School, Washington, DC (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

The plot moves quickly and should interest many readers, even those not usually drawn to historical fiction.--Caroline Hanson"School Library Journal" (09/01/2012)
A chilling, captivating novel about an innocent scapegoat, a searing injustice and the far-reaching damage secrets and lies do.--Christina Minaki"Canadian Children's Book News" (11/01/2012)
Elizabeth Stewart has crafted a compelling young adult novel centred on important themes of racism, justice and personal responsibility. These important themes are deftly developed; the tone never becomes preachy or pedantic. Strong curricular ties to both English and social studies programmes will appeal to teachers. The Lynching of Louie Sam is perfect for the senior high school library.--Nancy Prentice"Deakin Review of Children's Literature" (02/28/2013)
Based on a true story, two white teenage boys witness the lynching of an innocent Indian boy named Louie Sam when a mob is whipped into a killing frenzy... After a local man is murdered and his cabin set on fire, there is testimony that a teenage Indian was seen on the road nearby. As George and Dave watch from the edges of the proceedings, they see that some facts don't add up. But it is only after Louie Sam is dead that George tries to stand up for the truth. This novel is a powerful fictionalization of a poignant story... valuable for middle school units on westward expansion or for the study of discrimination against Native Americans. Recommended.--Karen Perry, Educational Reviewer, High Point, Nor"Library Media Connection" (04/01/2013)
Stewart's experience as a screenwriter enables her to create vivid characters and effective dialogue.--Patricia Jeremy"Resource Links" (12/01/2012)

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