Saturday, June 13, 2015

Ramona, by Helen Hunt Jackson

Book image courtesy of Ebay Images

Read and reviewed in May, 2006. Released later

This is a surprisingly good book, in spite of its being categorized as a "Romance" by Avon Books. It is set in old California, the land of Mexicans and native American Indians. The story is an old theme: boy and girl meet, fall in love, but are prevented from marrying by family pressure.

I looked up the author on Google. Mrs. Jackson wrote this book in 1884. It is not a "romance" in the modern interpretation; it is historical fiction with a purpose. Mrs. Jackson was a fighter for the rights of the native American Indians, who were displaced from their land and treated as less than human by the United States government. She sought to redress those wrongs with the publication of a nonfiction work, A Century of Dishonor, which documented "broken treaties, dishonest deals, unfulfilled promises, and the federal government's corrupt mismanagement."

Failing to convince Congress and other leaders with the earlier work, she then wrote what she hoped would prove to be the Uncle Tom's Cabin for American Indians, the fictional novel called Ramona. It deals with the many wrongs done to the native peoples, especially the unlawful taking of their lands by the American government, as seen through the lives of two people, Ramona and Alessandro.

I really got caught up in the lives and turmoil of Ramona and Alessandro, even though the first few chapters moved rather slowly. This is a very moving book, with many different plot developments. I was sorry to see it end.

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