Ripping Tale of Adventure
Reading about John Turner, the young hero of Alone, is the perfect antidote to Holden Caulfield, the cynical protagonist of Catcher in the Rye. In this engaging novel, set in 19th century Ontario, a thirteen-year old goes through the rites of passage, guarding the homestead. Alone in the bush, while his father fetches the rest of the family, John fends off a pack of wolves, a thievish peddler, and a dangerous fever. He makes friends with an Ojibway boy, learns to spear-fish salmon, and delivers a calf. John has what it takes to survive in the bush – spunk, skill and determination. He shows the quintessential pioneer spirit of courage, perseverance, and industry. While John takes care of the homestead newly carved out of the bush, the rest of the Turner family makes preparations to leave the relative comfort of a small town on the shores of Lake Ontario and join him at their allotment. We see them through the eyes of Josephine, an orphan who has been taken in by the family. In her diary Josephine tells of their labours and of her own difficulties warding off the unwanted attentions of a young lout. Alone introduces us to a panoply of characters – homesteaders, Loyalist refugees, a young woman from Quebec, a family of Ojibwas, a Methodist circuit rider. They made up the cultural patchwork of Canada then and foreshadow the multiculturalism of Canada today. Alone is a coming-of-age story crowded with life and youthful derring-do. It is a ripping tale of adventure as well as a compelling lesson in history.