The Legend of Zoey is a fascinating and engaging book. Zoey is a normal 13-year old girl with a few problems. Her parents are separated and fighting, she can't handle her mother's new profession as a midwife, and she isn't comfortable being Native American. For her 13th birthday her grandmother gives her a journal which she immediately begins to fill.
There's a strange comet in the sky and her family has a bad feeling about it. Zoey refuses to have them accompany her on a class trip to Reelfoot Lake in Tennessee where her Grandma Cope grew up because she is worried that Grandma Cope will tell everyone about being Native American.
During the trip something happens and Zoey is transported back to 1811, just as the New Madrid earthquakes are about to hit. Zoey meets a girl named Prudence and the book is written in the narrative of the two girls' journals.
I found the whole story completely absorbing. The New Madrid earthquakes actually happened and created Reelfoot Lake, as well as drowning a Chickasaw village.
Moonshower really gets into the details of the earthquakes and time period. There's plenty of sensory detail too, which really makes it feel real. I loved the two girls' voices and they felt very true to their period. I was so interested, I started doing a little research to find out more about those earthquakes.
Zoey and Prudence are brave, loyal and strong characters that I think readers will love. I loved too the way their stories blended together with the legend of the Chickasaw Chief Kalopin and his curse, creating a multi-layered and well-woven tale with elements that will make it an oft-read favorite.
This is Candie Moonshower's first novel and it won the Sue Alexander Most Promising New Work Award, which is given by the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. I expect the book may win a few more awards along the way. The Legend of Zoey was inspired by the legends told by the author's great-grandmother, a Creek Indian born and bred in Tennessee, about Reelfoot Lake.