Coats, J. Anderson. The Many Reflections of Miss Jane Deming. Atheneum, 2017. $16.99. 278p. ISBN 978-1-4814-6496-3. Ages 8-12. P6Q5
At 11, Jane Deming is the sole caregiver for her toddler brother after her father’s death in the Civil War and her 22-year-old stepmother’s employment in a mill. Mrs. D finds hope in a man’s scheme to take 700 single girls and widows across the country to Seattle, where he promises they will find wealthy husbands. Appalled by the rugged town they discover at arrival, each of the two females find their ways as the stepmother gives up her dream to marry a banker and settles for a frontiersman while Jane develops independence with her new stepfather’s help.
Verdict: The book has a slow feel because a large part of the story takes place during the four-month journey on a ship, and the author dwells on Jane’s caring for her half-brother because of the mother’s neglect. Jane seems too good to be real, the characters are flat, and the resolutions unrealistic. Miss Jane Deming is for larger collections, perhaps in the Northwest.
April 2017 review by Nel Ward.