I Walk in Dread: The Diary of Deliverance Trembley, Witness to the Salem Witch Trials
This young adult novel joins the many others in the Dear America series of fictional diaries set at pivotal points in US history. Deliverance Trembley, a made-up character, is a girl of twelve in Salem, Massachusetts, during the fateful winter of 1691-92. “Liv,” along with her older, consumptive sister Remembrance, “Mem,” are orphaned and left to fend for themselves while an uncle goes whaling and a brother to the Indian wars.
The descriptions of what it takes to live through a Massachusetts winter when their male protectors are gone are good, and the budding romance moves things along as well. But was it an editorial decision that the real horrors of the witch hunt would be too much for young people? New to the area from Maine, Deliverance remains an outsider, never close enough to the girls her own age at the center of the maelstrom to see what’s going on except by hearsay. Goody Goode, one of the first accused, comes to beg at their door and may have caused Mem’s coughing fits. Liv comes to know of the innocence of one of the other women who was kind to her—passively, through a dream. Neither discovery is acted on. Of course we rejoice at our heroine’s escape from such unpleasant neighbors, but perhaps this leads to the reader’s narrow escape from having learned any valuable insights as well.