In her debut novel, Laura Frantz tells the story of a young woman coming of age on the Kentucky frontier. The first white child born in the settlement, Lael Click is at home in the woods and feels hemmed in by the fort walls. Troubles with the Shawnee send her inside the fort and even back east, where her heart longs for home and the simple settlement life of her childhood. Even when she returns home, can she trust her heart to know what is best? Or will she always long for that which might have been rather than what is?
This is the third or fourth time that I've read The Frontiersman's Daughter, and it is still one of my favorite reads. More expansive than just a romance, it encompasses Lael's coming of age, her struggles to find her place, letting go of the past, and yes, falling in love.
There's a magic to the early, wild frontier in Frantz's prose--beauty, simplicity, danger. A sense that boldness will get you far, but only if it is tempered with respect. The way she paints her world makes me want to travel back in time to experience it myself.
Lael is a strong heroine. She's strong in ways that I want to be strong, and weak in areas that make me hurt for her. She struggles with bitterness and grudges, but she recognizes the meanness within herself and strives to be better. She's very human, and for someone who has never been lost in her life, she is so lost.
The novel brings to mind some of my favorite books from childhood: Indian Captive by Lois Lenski, Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell, Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink, Calico Captive by Elizabeth George Speare. For anyone who grew up loving those books, The Frontiersman's Daughter will appeal to that nostalgia while providing a beautiful read geared toward an adult audience. See also A Moonbow Night by Laura Frantz!