Bethia's journal entries begin in the 1600s when she is twelve. Her family has moved from the mainland to an island off the coast of Massachusets, and her father, a preacher, is homeschooling her brother, Makepeace. Bethia performs chores in the same room and easily absorbs the rhetoric, Greek, Hebrew and Latin lessons her older brother cannot grasp. When it becomes obvious she knows more than him, she is banished during lessons, and uses her new free time to explore the island. On one of her forays, she encounters an Indian boy who, over time, becomes a friend and gives her the name, "Storm Eyes." When her father takes this boy, Caleb, into the household as a student as part of his mission to convert the heathens, the family's way of life is turned upside down. And when it is time for Caleb, Makepeace and others to be sent to the mainland to continue their education, Bethia is indentured to the school's headmaster to help defray the cost of tuition. How she deals with these changed circumstances that alter her life forever is the subject of the rest of her journal.
This title has some similarities to the author's Year of Wonders: a female narrator with a strong character, lust for learning, and a stubborn streak. Add a disruptive sequence of events, then watch the resulting chaos erupt and settle.
The narrator's measured, yet emotional, reading conveys the frustrations, joys, griefs, and questions Bethia expresses privately in her journal, as one tragedy follows another in this harsh land. I found her stilted enunciation distracting at first, but I believe it was in character - written language is more formal than spoken language, after all. This book might also appeal to teens, despite its length.