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The Lynching of Louie Sam by Elizabeth…
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The Lynching of Louie Sam (2012)

by Elizabeth Stewart

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Racism, murder, and injustice wreak havoc in a frontier town.

"Without a word, Father pulled me up behind him into the saddle. I kept my face buried in his back so I wouldn't have to see Louie Sam again. But I saw him in my mind, anyway. I will see him there forever."

Between 1882 and 1968 there were 4,742 lynchings in the United States. In Canada during the same period there was one--the hanging of American Indian Louie Sam.

The year is 1884, and 15-year-old George Gillies lives in the Washington Territory, near the border with British Columbia. In this newly settled land, white immigrants have an uneasy relationship with the Native Indians. When George and his siblings discover the murdered body of a local white man, suspicion immediately falls on a young Indian named Louie Sam. George and his best friend, Pete, follow a lynch mob north into Canada, where the terrified boy is seized and hung.

But even before the deed is done, George begins to have doubts. Louie Sam was a boy, only 14--could he really be a vicious murderer? Were the mob leaders motivated by justice, or were they hiding their own guilt? As George uncovers the truth--implicating Pete's father and other prominent locals--tensions in the town rise, and he must face his own part in the tragedy. But standing up for justice has devastating consequences for George and his family.

Inspired by the true story of the lynching, recently acknowledged as a historical injustice by Washington State, this powerful novel offers a stark depiction of historical racism and the harshness of settler life. The story will provoke readers to reflect on the dangers of mob mentality and the importance of speaking up for what's right.
  lkmuir | Nov 30, 2015 |
This book deserves a five on the VOYA scale for quality. It is superbly written in a first person narrative that captivated my attention and put me in the shoes of the protagonist, George Gillies. George's perspectives of life in late 1800s Washington Territory is illuminating, sometimes repulsive but in a necessary way. Stewarts' ability to capture the intolerance and secret corruption of white settlers to the West Coast was vividly expressed through the eyes of her protagonist. I found myself sighing with relief as George made breakthroughs in his understanding of humanity and morality towards ALL human beings. Stewarts' retelling of this true incident also inspired me by reminding me that although our society has come a long way towards enforcing liberty and justice for all, we still have a long ways to go. I think this novel will inspire most teens similarly, and give them an engaging lens through which to evaluate the institutionalized racism that lingers in this country today. I therefor assigned the novel a VOYA popularity rating of four. ( )
  Millerloo | Jun 5, 2014 |
5Q, 4P

The power of this books lays in how the author tried to stay true to historical facts about the horrible things that occurred surrounding racism and scapegoating. We all like to think we would do the right thing and stand up for other people but history is littered with occasions were voices have not been raised and Elizabeth Stewart does a great job of touching on this. ( )
  freeborboleta | May 26, 2014 |
5Q, 4P

The injustice and attitudes reflected in this book was startling, disturbing, and well done. I believe Stewart does a thorough job in bringing to life the casual arrogance and racism of the frontiersmen, and their warped sense of moral justice. The fact that the main protagonist, George Gillies does not question whether the accused murderer Louie Sam is innocent reveals much about the attitudes of the time and how skin color reflects guilt regardless of evidence, facts, or reason. The pacing of this book is face with easy to follow prose and thought provoking imagery. Although this book focuses only on the perspective of white frontiersmen and gives no outside perspective, Stewart still manages to cause the readers to question his or her own race based assumptions and the damages that such assumptions can cause. ( )
  Kimba512 | May 26, 2014 |
One of the most intriguing aspects of this novel is the overwhelming sense of horror one has about the racism and injustice that has occurred. As a true story that attempts to stay as close to the facts as possible the author has chose to include derogatory remarks as they represent the true attitudes of American settlers of the era, but as a member of contemporary society this is absolutely shocking.

At one point in the novel near the beginning there is a quote that states "All he needed to do was follow the pack" (Stewart Location 708). While this quote was about a packhorse I couldn't help but apply this sentiment to the rest of the novel. I craved justice and felt the need to demand it much the same way the villagers did within the novel, but when the villagers got their justice i was overwhelmed by my own sense of injustice.

Prejudice and racism is a constant fixture in society whether we acknowledge it or not, but in this work Stewart forces us to experience racism on a level unimagined. Faced with a chronic system of injustice the reader comes to see that this aspect of our current society as one is made aware of similar current issues. ( )
  alicen3 | May 24, 2014 |
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For Louie Sam
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My name is George Gillies. My parents are Scottish by birth and I was born in England, but since we immigrated, we're all Americans now.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 155451438X, Paperback)

Racism, murder, and injustice wreak havoc in a frontier town.

"Without a word, Father pulled me up behind him into the saddle. I kept my face buried in his back so I wouldn't have to see Louie Sam again. But I saw him in my mind, anyway. I will see him there forever."

Between 1882 and 1968 there were 4,742 lynchings in the United States. In Canada during the same period there was one--the hanging of American Indian Louie Sam.

The year is 1884, and 15-year-old George Gillies lives in the Washington Territory, near the border with British Columbia. In this newly settled land, white immigrants have an uneasy relationship with the Native Indians. When George and his siblings discover the murdered body of a local white man, suspicion immediately falls on a young Indian named Louie Sam. George and his best friend, Pete, follow a lynch mob north into Canada, where the terrified boy is seized and hung.

But even before the deed is done, George begins to have doubts. Louie Sam was a boy, only 14--could he really be a vicious murderer? Were the mob leaders motivated by justice, or were they hiding their own guilt? As George uncovers the truth--implicating Pete's father and other prominent locals--tensions in the town rise, and he must face his own part in the tragedy. But standing up for justice has devastating consequences for George and his family.

Inspired by the true story of the lynching, recently acknowledged as a historical injustice by Washington State, this powerful novel offers a stark depiction of historical racism and the harshness of settler life. The story will provoke readers to reflect on the dangers of mob mentality and the importance of speaking up for what's right.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:50 -0400)

After Native American Louie Sam is suspected of killing someone, he is chased into Canada and lynched, but teenager George Gillies, a newcomer to Washington Territory, doesn't think Louie was guilty and sets out to investigate.

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