Reviewed by Marshall Hughes
Speak Through the Wind by Allison
"...certainly an interesting read. It is easy to put yourself in Kassandra's shoes as the writing style makes the story easy to follow."
Life isn't always easy, especially for a parentless waif living off the streets of mid-1800s New York. Kassandra's 20-year ordeal sees her wandering through the zeniths and nadirs of the human condition.
Kassandra is an abandoned child trying to eke out an existence on the streets of New York in the mid-1800s. Her life takes a turn for the better when, as a result of getting mowed down by a run-away carriage, she ends up in the care of Reverend Joseph, who nurses her to emotional, physical and spiritual health.
Reaching adolescence, Kassandra runs away from both her earthly and spiritual saviors, landing in the arms of Ben, every parents' worst nightmare. The next decade or so is spent in places from coast to coast where no father wants his daughter to be. Given a final, unexpected chance to "go home" and start over, Kassandra has to make a tough decision.
An interesting period piece, Speak Through the Wind is best described as a prodigal daughter story. Nuance is lacking, like where the author puts forth the Christian Gospel with all the subtlety of a Four Spiritual Laws tract. There are several rapes and murders in the book, and it's hard to believe the main antagonist can be so evil, yet so charming, as to talk Kassandra into giving up all she has to follow him. His ultimate fate is a bit forced, and the author seems to somehow attempt to make him a heroic figure.
The unmarried Kassandra gets pregnant several times in the book with less-than-glorious results---not surprising, considering her "profession." After about a decade of hard knocks and terrible luck, she is given a seeming final chance and readers will all hope she takes advantage of it.
The main character is certainly a sympathetic, likeable figure, and is alternately to be pitied and admired. Despite a logic flaw or two (does snow really melt around zero degrees?), the book is certainly an interesting read. It is easy to put yourself in Kassandra's shoes as the writing style makes the story easy to follow. The dialogue has a few curiosities but is believable. Ultimately, the message of the book is one of hope and redemption, no matter how long it takes.
Marshall Hughes is a former sports writer for the Honolulu Advertiser. For most of the past 22 years he has taught English in Japan. He has taught at the university level in America, Japan and China. Among his hobbies are sports, traveling and photography. He has been to 41 countries and is always hoping to go somewhere new. He is an award-winning photographer in both Japan and America. His bi-lines include The Washington Post, The Pacific Daily News (Guam), The Contra Costa Times and several sports publications.