Before today’s review I just want to let you know that I received this as an eBook ARC from NetGalley and Penguin Young Readers Group/Dial Books during School Library Journal’s Day of Dialogue. I’m a Youth Services Librarian and through this role I am able to sometimes receive advanced copies of books. This does not influence my review — all opinions are my own. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the ability to read an early copy of this book.Peacemaker by Joseph Bruchac
Published by Dial Books on 27 October 2020
Format: ARC eBook
A twelve-year-old Iroquois boy rethinks his calling after witnessing the arrival of a mystical figure with a message of peace in this historical novel based on the creation of the Iroquois Confederacy.
Twelve-year-old Okwaho's life has suddenly changed. While out hunting with his best friend, his friend is kidnapped by marauders from a neighboring tribe. Okwaho barely escapes back to his village where everyone lives in fear of raids and killings: The five tribes of the Iroquois have been at war with each other for far too long, and no one can even remember what it was like to live in peace.
Okwaho seeks only revenge, which will just perpetuate the violence. But before he can retaliate, a visitor with a message of peace, as told in the lore of the of the Iroquois nation, comes to him in the woods. The Peacemaker--a vision in white buckskin with a calm demeanor and soothing words--tells the boy that he can convince even the most warlike leaders of the wisdom of peace. Okwaho joins the legions of others who believe, and is present when the great treaty creating the Iroquois Confederacy is enacted.
In Joseph Bruchac’s new novel, Peacemaker, we are introduced to 12-year-old Okwaho. Early into the novel readers watch as Okwaho’s best friend is kidnapped by a neighboring tribe. This experience really affects Okwaho. Most of the novel explores Okwaho’s feelings surrounding his friend’s kidnapping (anger, grief & revenge) and his family’s decision to leave their original village in order to live a less violent life while also being set within the historical context of the creation of the Iroquois Confederacy.
I enjoyed reading Okwaho’s story. It was very much a coming of age story but coming from an Iroquois point of view. Okwaho really struggled with his feelings and withdrew from his usual activities and interactions within his village after his friend was kidnapped. When tales of The Peacemaker made their way to his village, Okwaho began to rethink his revenge and anger. Not only did he begin to work through his emotions, but he also began to find his voice.
This was a beautifully told historical fiction novel. I loved how Bruchac told the story of the treaty creating the Iroquois Confederacy through the eyes of Okwaho. Not only do we get to hear the oral stories of the Peacemaker & get a glimpse into Iroquois history, but we are also treated to Okwaho’s character development. I think this story will be relatable to young readers struggling through emotions and finding their identity and I think the message of finding & using your voice in the name of peace and unification will resonate with many—especially in today’s current climate. I really resonated with this message. The ending and overall story left me hopeful and reminded me of the power of peace and unification. This is definitely a timely novel for readers – both young and old. It’s one I’d definitely recommend you pick up. It’s a quick read and you won’t be disappointed.
Have you read Peacemaker? What are your thoughts on Okwaho’s decisions, feelings, reactions? What did you think of the Peacemaker’s image or the stories about the Peacemaker? How did this book leave you feeling? Let me know below!