Ox Cart Angel, by J. Arnold, is the story of Claire, a young Métis girl, in the Dakota Territory during the Civil War. After the local Métis men leave on their yearly journey to sell their furs, Claire’s father decides to begin the risky journey with a ‘retired’ ox and Claire, despite his lack of knowledge and adequate supplies since the majority of space is full of his photography equipment. The pair endures multiple hardships, dangers, and boredom, aggravated by relationship difficulties.
This story leaves the reader with images of the difficulties that people endured living in the late 1800s including physical and mental hardship, racism, prejudice, and the constant struggle to survive. Claire struggles to accept her father’s decision to leave the village of her mother, knowing that her father does not have the skills to make such a trip. The book paints a vivid picture, leaving the reader exhausted as they meet the struggles along with Claire. The book drags at the reader’s emotions as the reader follows Claire through her struggles, presenting life in a tremendously difficult time.
I would recommend this book for teens for the historical aspect and for the conflicts of parent/child, racism, and survival. I received this book through the Library Thing Giveaway Program.