W for Where the Broken Heart Still Beats, by Carolyn Meyer (book review) – captured by Indians, captured by family

book cover of Where the Broken Heart Still Beats by Carolyn Meyer published by HarcourtWho does the land belong to?
Who is closer – family of blood or family by adoption?
Who decides which child a mother must be separated from?

While kidnapping of settlers’ children and wives by Native Americans was not uncommon on the Western frontier, bringing any back to their white families certainly was. Of course, it didn’t matter to her uncle and his family that Naduah had no interest in them or their strange customs and uncomfortable shoes.

Reunited with her children after death, Cynthia Ann is now buried in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, beside her Comanche warrior son Quanah and young daughter Topsannah.

Author of many historical fiction books for young adults, Carolyn Meyer was inspired to write Cynthia Ann’s story when she moved to Texas in the early 1990s, as she notes in this interview. Recently reissued with new cover art, Where the Broken Heart Still Beats  is a timeless tale of love, family, and conflict.

Which do you prefer – historical fiction or factual biographies?

 local library  or independent bookstore

Book info:  Where the Broken Heart Still Beats: the Story of Cynthia Ann Parker (Great Episodes series) / Carolyn Meyer. Harcourt, 1992. [author site]  [publisher site]

My recommendation: Kidnapped not once but twice, a young girl in frontier Texas becomes the mother of a great Comanche warrior, yet feels like a prisoner as she dies among her blood relatives, far from those she loves.

Captured from her uncle’s settlement by Comanche raiders who killed many of her relatives, nine-year-old Cynthia Ann Parker soon adapted to life with the People, moving across the land as the seasons changed, growing into a strong young woman called Naduah who married chief Peta Nocona and bore him sons and a daughter.

Her Parker relatives never stopped searching for Cynthia Ann, as rumors of a light-eyed girl in the Comanche camps reached them through traders over the course of twenty-five years. But the elder chiefs would not accept any amount of trade goods for this hard-working daughter of the People, no matter what the white men asked.

Finally, the Parker men raided the Comanche camp when the warriors were hunting buffalo, almost shooting Naduah in their quest to remove the “Indian threat” from lands they wanted to settle. When they saw her light eyes, they realized this could be their long-gone cousin, and her startled response to the name ‘Sinty Ann’ showed they were right.

Now, Naduah and baby daughter Topsannah are securely within the Parker family compound, and her 12-year-old cousin Lucy tries to reawaken her memory of the English language and ‘civilized’ behavior. All Naduah wants is to return to her husband and sons, so she tries again and again to escape, but is always thwarted.

How long can her family keep her away from her family?
Who has rights to the land which has supported the Comanche for so long?
How long can a mother live without hearing her children’s voices?

Told in the alternating voices of cousin Lucy’s journal and Naduah’s reminiscences, this true episode from history captures the uneasy ebb and flow of relations between Native Americans and settlers in north Texas as the Lone Star State is on the brink of entering the Civil War.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

3 thoughts on “W for Where the Broken Heart Still Beats, by Carolyn Meyer (book review) – captured by Indians, captured by family

  1. This book sounds similar to Caroline Cooney’s The Ransom of Mercy Carter and the much-older Lois Lenski book Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison. Both books were based on real events.

    • Carrie-Anne – these are all great historical fiction novels that take readers into the situation from the characters’ points of view. I’m really glad that this older work has been brought back into print so a whole new generation of readers can experience it as a fancy ‘new’ paperback.


  2. Pingback: TBR and A-to-Z – Reflecting on April alphabet soup! | BooksYALove

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