Book: The Apprenticeship of Nigel Blackthorn by Frank Kelsocategories: Book, Coming of Age, Western, Native Americans, Multicultural, Christian, Young Adult & Teen, Mulitilingual, Historical Fiction
Frank Kelsoabout this book: Mexico's loss in the Mexican-American War of 1848 ended their strict requirement that all migrants be Roman Catholic. The Mormon Church became the first religious group to act on this opportunity in 1848. Methodists created the American Board of Missions to convert the plains Indians to Christianity. In 1851, the Board sent ministers and their families from Europe to the American West to counter the influence of Catholic priests from Mexico and Canada.
This coming-of-age story tells of the adventures of Nigel Blackthorn, the surviving son of one such missionary family. After a raiding party kills his family, and burns their wagons, thirteen-year-old Nigel prays for God to send help. A passing mule train spots the smoke, finding Nigel. The muleteer is Pascal LeBrun, a defrocked priest. Pascal introduces plump, lazy, and spoiled Nigel to an unwelcome new world-work or starve. Pascal is a disciplinarian, a concept unknown to Nigel. He works for the next two-hundred miles to reach the nearest settlement where he must choose: an orphanage or an apprenticeship on the mule train for the next eight-years.
Years later, Nigel wonders if the orphanage might have been easier.
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