Written in Blood

Written by John Wilson
Review by Patricia O’Sullivan

It is 1877, and 16-year-old Jim Doolen has set out to find the father he hasn’t seen in ten years. Jim travels alone from Yale, British Columbia, to Chihuahua, Mexico, encountering an array of interesting fellow-travelers along the way: a suspicious man who offers to travel with Jim, a storytelling hermit who gives Jim a new name, an Apache warrior, and a Mexican diplomat. As Jim collects stories from these men, he begins to piece together what happened to his father and gets caught up in the violent family drama his father had hoped to leave behind.

This is a fast-paced tale that is hard to put down. Jim’s youthful naiveté makes him a likable character, and Jim’s determination and courage make this an interesting story. Though this is a middle grade novel, the author does not whitewash the violence of the period and neither does he insulate Jim from it. In addition, the author does a nice job weaving into the narrative the historical conflicts that plagued the American Southwest and linger there today.