The story of Moon Song and Skypilot caught my interest from the beginning and maintained it until the end. I thoroughly enjoyed learning to know the characters, and I was very pleased that the author did not gloss over the difficulties that Moon Song and Skypilot faced in their relationship. This excellent tale of sacrificial love and devotion is poignant but not excessively mushy.
In Under A Blackberry Moon, Serena Miller has penned an intriguing, haunting tale of a beautiful Indian woman who embarks on a perilous journey in the harsh, unforgiving Michigan wilderness to search for her family---and finds herself unwilling caught up in a seemingly ill-fated romance with a white man.
Moon Song, a young widow with an 8 month-old child, has been working in a lumber camp as a cook, and although she is treated with love and respect she feels it is now time to find her Chippewa family. Isaac Ross, better known by his nickname, Skypilot, decides to accompany Moon Song on her treacherous journey back to her people. As tragedy and the harsh elements in the wilderness draw Moon Song and Skypilot together, she finds herself unwillingly falling for the big, stalwart preacher/lumberjack. It is a love that can never be, however, as Moon Song realizes that many white men eventually leave their Indian families and the horrendous weather conditions in upper Michigan. Can this man and woman from two diverse cultures and beliefs overcome their adversities, or must each go their own way?
This is a fabulous book destined to become another award winner for Serena Miller! Filled with excitement, courageous characters, and a strong plot, this book is a treasure trove of knowledge of the Chippewa nation---their customs, skills, and hardships they had to endure. I was so impressed by the author's research and descriptive imagery, her strong, yet vulnerable heroine and hero, and a surprising twist or two thrown in at the conclusion...making this one of my favorite books of 2013!
When I heard that Serena Miller had written a story about the heroic character from The Measure of Katie Calloway - Skypilot - I knew I had to read this book. I loved Skypilot; his character, his hard-working nature, and how he was willing to sacrifice himself to save the life of Robert's young daughter.
In Under a Blackberry Moon, Skypilot accompanies the native young woman, Moon Song, and her eight month old son from Jack's lumber camp back to her tribe.
We were introduced to Moon Song in The Measure of Katie Calloway where she stumbled into Robert's lumber camp. She was also the person who nursed Skypilot back to health. They developed a friendship during that time, but feelings are running a bit deeper than a mere friendship for Moon Song. She is trying to keep them under control, because she doesn't believe that a white man will stay with a native woman over the long haul. She has seen that happen often enough in the tribes.
During their travel, tragedy strikes and lives are lost. Thankfully Skypilot, Moon Song, her son, and a white woman named Isabella survive. Stranded on a sandbank with no way to get off, Moon Song's survival instinct kicks in. She leads Skypilot and Isabella to a safer place, meanwhile searching and preparing food.
Skypilotâ€”big and strong as he isâ€”has to rely on Moon Song to survive their trek through the wilderness of Michigan. His admiration for the woman grows into something more, but Moon Song doesn't hesitate to turn him down. Will Skypilot find a way to win her heart?
What a wonderful story! I really enjoyed reading Moon Song and Skypilot's adventure. Moon Song turned out to be an interesting woman; sensitive but tough. She knows what she wants and what needs to be done. Skypilot already stole my heart in The Measure of Katie Calloway and it was a delight to get to know him better and see how he held onto his faith and believes.
To make the story even more interesting, there were some unexpected twists and turns that kept me glued to the pages. The unforeseen surprise at the end kept me smiling long after I finished the book.
*Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy through NetGalley.*
To get the full picture of Under a Blackberry Moon, it helps to read The Measure of Katie Calloway first, which describes how Moon Song and Isaac Ross, commonly called Skypilot for his former profession of preacher, meet in a lumber camp, though Miller summarizes it fairly well in Blackberry. This novel picks up immediately where Katie Calloway leaves off, three years before the related A Promise to Love begins.
Lumberjack Skypilot is escorting Chippewa woman Moon Song and her infant son from the thumb of Michigan to her people on the western end of the Upper Peninsula. Traveling by steamboat is the quickest way, by route of the great lakes, but not exactly the safest. When the ship wrecks, they are left to traverse the rest of the way by foot through dangerous wilderness. Though they grow closer on the journey, they discover their cultures are an obstacle not easily overcome on the path to love.
As with her other novels, Miller has put in a lot of research. She does not skimp on how poorly Indians were treated: in general attitudes, in marriages, in the degradations by the government, in stealing their children to "educate" them. It was a horrible time for them, when the life they'd known for so long was taken away, setting a course that affects them to this day. In addition, she discusses the difficulties missionaries faced, since by then the Indians had received too many conflicting versions of Christianity from white men who professed Christ yet so often failed to agree with each other or show His love.
The book seems so simple straightforward when one reads the description - two people off on a long trip surviving adversity together, of course they fall in love! But it isn't simple; sure, they might be in love, but surviving all the shipwrecks and wolf attacks in the world together will not prepare one to give up everything one has known to live in another culture. Crossing that divide is no easy feat, as evinced by the multiple failures Moon Song has observed in her short lifetime. Miller has thoroughly thought through this aspect of the story and given it the emphasis it deserves. Culture gap is a huge issue that cannot be overcome simply by ooey-gooey romantic love - it takes serious work.
Once again, Serena Miller has written an excellent historical novel. The characters are flawed, but they grow significantly without ever bordering on unlikeable. I loved Skypilot, who makes an excellent hero; his devotion reminds me of Jacob laboring for Rachel. However, Moon Song's spiritual welfare is a priority for him, and no matter how much he wants to, he refuses to be unequally yoked in marriage. This book is a beautiful journey, full of adventure and determination. 5 out of 5 stars!
In her village, each child was given a unique name by the village elders. There were no other Moon Songs. It was her name and hers alone.
The moon had been full the night she was born in her mother's tent. The elders heard her grandmother, Fallen Arrow, singing a soothing song to her new little granddaughter minutes after her birth, and that had been the root of her lovely name.
She was Moon Song, and she came from the wise Chippewa. Her grandfather had once been a great warrior and chief.
--Under a Blackberry Moon, 9
One Moon Song. After a ruckus on the boardwalk, she is leaving Bay City to return to her people, far north at Lake Superior. Without the law to protect her from rummaging drunks, she cannot stay. It is not safe for her to walk to get beads for her beadwork for her young son's moccasins ~ her Ayasha ~ "Little One." An elder in her tribe would choose his permanent name.
Isaac Ross ~ known as Skypilot, the name given him by his logging friends ~ their nickname for anyone who had ever been a preacher ~ knew Moon Song better than the others as she had taken care of him at the camp after his accident while rescuing a child.
Skypilot accompanies Moon Song and her young son to reach their village. Almost to her homeland, an explosion disrupts their plans and their direction. I struggled with them as they crossed the waters along the magnificent cliffs. Moon Song's skills keep them alive. Skypilot's quick actions keep them safe.
This is a fantastic book. So well plotted, history comes alive in this story. I found it interesting of the naming of the moons for the activities or happenings during each of the full moons, i.e. rice moon, berry moon, to keep track of the passing year. I enjoyed the story of Skypilot's wanting to learn her language and Chippewa ways, and appreciated Moon Song's dedication to her grandmother. Because of this honor, choices were made that benefited all of them. Trust and respect were values that carried them to freedom.
Serena B. Miller is the RITA Award-winning author of The Measure of Katie Calloway and A Promise to Love, as well as numerous articles for periodicals such as Woman's World, Guideposts, Reader's Digest, Focus on the Family, Christian Woman, and more. She lives on a farm in southern Ohio. Please visit serenabmiller.com for more.
***Thank you to Revell Blog Tour Network for sending me a review copy of Serena B. Miller's Under a Blackberry Moon. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***