Far Creek Road

Written by Lesley Krueger
Review by Valerie Adolph

In 1961, 10-year-old Mary Alice (known as Tink) lives with her parents in a northern suburb of Vancouver. Even on this forested mountainside on the far west of the continent, troubling political events percolate through from the east.

Most families here have dads who fought in WW2 and moms who stay home with the children. Then the Horton family moves in. Both parents are teachers; their son Norman, handicapped after suffering polio, becomes Tink’s closest friend. Tink is aware that the Hortons are different from the rest of the local parents; while they seem to be decent people, they dress less formally, and are said to be “Bohemian.”

Norman is a thinker, but Tink is an observant child who notices and questions everything in her comfortable middle-class neighborhood. She is scared by the sudden loud sirens but unaware of the international politics they represent. Then the Cuban missile crisis erupts, and the Hortons are accused of being Communists, possibly teaching alien doctrines to their students. Unstated hostilities between neighbors flare into open anger and persecution.

The character of Tink is especially well-drawn as she observes much and understands little. Her blurted out inaccuracies are humorous but revealing of the secrets and insincerities of the adults she observes. Her awkward questioning provides a light-hearted counterpoint to painful but universal themes.

This engrossing book sets the simplicity of friendship between two children against a framework of international politics. The author delves deeply into Tink’s world–that of a child largely unaware of world events, but condemned to experience their effects as her neighbors descend from civilized politeness to witch hunt.