Streams to the River, River to the Sea – Scott O’Dell

Streams to the River, River to the Sea

Streams to the River, River to the Sea by Scott O’Dell

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Streams to the River, River to the Sea is the story of Sacagawea, a Shoshone Indian who guided Lewis and Clark on their journey across the United States. Although it is a relatively short book, it follows Sacagawea from her home with the Shoshone, through her time with other tribes having been kidnapped, and finally on her trek to see the ocean. The first third of the tale took place during the time that Sacagawea was shunted between different tribes. It was heartwrenching to read how much she went through over the course of her life. The rest of the book delved into their journey across the plains. The author seemed to cram the return journey and everyone returning home into a very small portion of the end of the book, which made it feel rushed.

Although she is called their guide, there was very little guiding described in this story. Sacagawea spent much more of her time tending to her baby, dealing with her own illnesses, pining after Clark, and being a symbol of non-aggression than being the brave and strong person that she likely was. Too often, she was just brought before the attention of men to show that the party had a woman with a baby in it, so they must be friendly. I was a little let down by that fact because I feel as though it could have been more inspiring if she shone more in the story. That being said, she did travel without complaint and many times on foot, while the men rode horses.

I love history and the journey depicted in this novel was one of the foundational moments in our country’s history. It was written with an authentic voice that would allow readers to really sink into the narrative and feel as though they are experiencing the same trials and tribulations as the characters. Overall, this did not feel like a young adult historical fiction novel, but more like one I might have read in elementary or middle school. Due to the shortness of the story, I feel as though there was a lot that was left out and if the author had made the book longer then there could have been more character development and history packed into the narrative, which would have made the story more appealing to older readers.

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