Red Wing

Written by Cris Harding
Review by Jeff Westerhoff

This is the story of two families, the Frost family in Dania, Florida, and the Harris family of Sandersville, Georgia. Between 1910 and 1921, they are quite different financially: the Frosts have money through their businesses, and the Harrises’ fortunes are definitely scarce. Dewina Frost is a 14-year-old girl. She takes piano lessons and occasionally travels with her family to Wisconsin, where her father owns a lumberyard business. His first wife’s son is the foreman.

Meanwhile, 14-year-old Dan Harris has fewer opportunities. As a younger son, he is forced to leave school after an eighth-grade education. Because he must help his family monetarily and learn a trade, he is sent to Saint Augustine, Florida, to help harvest oranges. After the harvest, he goes to work for his cousin and is hired on to a shrimp boat.

The novel presents these two families as they try to survive tragedy and racial discrimination. It seems improbable that Dewina and Dan would never meet, so I suspected this would happen eventually. This is not so much a romantic novel as a character-driven story of how the two protagonists deal with one setback after another. The supporting cast provides little emotional depth. Thank goodness the author does furnish family trees for both families, since I used them quite often during my reading.