HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The Cost of Passage
Author: Heather Tekavec
Cover Illustrator: Barbara Kiwak
Publisher: Herald Press, 2004
Related website: http://www.heraldpress.com (publisher)
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 10 and up
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Tekavec, Heather. The Cost of Passage (published in 2004 by Herald Press, Scottsdale, PA 15683). Fourteen year old Anna lives with her father, a German Mennonite minister, mother, almost sixteen year old brother Peter, and younger siblings, eight year old Susie, three year old Henry, and baby Elizabeth, in a small village of the Russian region of Molotschna. An even older brother Aaron had died while working as a forced laborer in a Russian logging camp. It is around 1920 during the Russian Revolution when the Red or Communist army is fighting the White or Czarist army, and the Green Army of Nestor Makhno is fighting both while terrorizing everyone around. Anna’s “boyfriend,” Johnny Warkentin, has already emigrated to Canada, and Anna’s father wants his family to emigrate there too, but they had to give the money from “the freedom jar” which they were saving for emigration to help a soldier who had escaped capture by the Red Army. Anna is secretly saving up money in a pouch to help, even “borrowing” occasionally from the grocery money to add to her store. However, her brother doesn’t want to go.
Peter would prefer to stay and, in spite of the Mennonites’ belief in non-retaliation, join Jacob Penner’s band to fight both the Communists and Makhno. He even builds a gun but is seriously injured when trying to fire it, so Papa decides that they must leave the village for him to become superintendant of an old folks’ home, but just as they prepare to go, Makhno’s army burns much of their village. What will happen to Peter? Will the family ever realize their dream to move to Canada? And what part does a drawer of moldy bread buns have to play in the plot? There is a euphemistic reference to “blasted Maschka flies,” but no cursing or profanity and nothing else objectionable. It is always pleasant to read tender stories such as this in which people learn that faith in God and the power of prayer will help them deal with countless setbacks, tragedies, and heartaches. The Cost of Passage is Book #6 in the “Crossings of Promise” series of “Historical fiction with a touch of romance.” I have previously read and reviewed Book #1 of the series, When Lightning Strikes by Hugh Alan Smith.