Lisa Doucet Reviews Iain of New Scotland by Margaret MacKay
Iain of New Scotland
(Ages 10 & up)
When the Hector finally makes its way into Pictou Harbour after 10 long, arduous weeks at sea, and many tragic losses, the weary passengers are anxious to begin their new lives on the farms that they have been promised. But it soon becomes apparent that the promises of food, farms and abundant supplies were exaggerated.
Instead, they are given lots in the middle of the forest that they will need to clear before they can begin to build homes and plant crops. Longing for the rolling hills of Scotland, they wonder how they will ever carve themselves homes out of these gigantic, never-ending trees.
But like their friends and neighbours, Iain and his family are strong-willed, hard-working and stout-hearted. They survive the long, hard winter and find work in Truro, eventually making their way back to Pictou to build their house and face their future together.
Author Margaret MacKay has created a vivid portrait of the lives of the early Scottish settlers of the region. Her grim depiction of theHector’sjourney—and the dismay of the passengers when they realize how much work needs to be done to make this place into a proper settlement—gives readers a true sense of what the Scots were facing.
The harsh living conditions, especially during the bleak and brutal winter months, create a realistic portrait of the time period. Iain’s relationships with his family and his friend Seumas give readers a sense of the strong family ties and close-knit communities, despite the fact that the dialogue frequently feels somewhat forced. But the strength and spirit of these families shines brightly throughout this book, which celebrates not only the beginning of their new lives but also all that they brought with them to this new land: their music, Gaelic language and Celtic traditions.