Amy's Promise


194 pages
ISBN 0-590-24521-6
DDC jC813'.54





Reviewed by Dave Jenkinson

Dave Jenkinson is a professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba and the author of the “Portraits” section of Emergency Librarian.


Hunter’s 11th novel successfully continues her string of well-written,
episodic family stories convincingly embedded in various historical
periods. Before her mother’s death on February 15, 1920, Amy Phair,
then just 6 but the eldest of five children, promised her mother that
she would “watch over the little ones.” Six years later, Amy is
finding that she cannot truly “watch over the little ones” because
the youngest, Baby Janey, has been sent to live with relatives in
Winnipeg. Amy also feels that her responsibilities have been usurped by
Gramma Davis, who has taken control of the household. Amy worries too
about her taciturn, embittered father whose alcohol-fueled anger has
alienated him from his children.

Despite Amy’s problems, she has moments of happiness over the
book’s eight-month timeframe, many of which centre on her new friend,
Winnie Plum. By story’s end, Amy, her father, and Gramma Davis have
come to new understandings of each other. The book closes on Amy’s
13th birthday as her father provides her with the one surprise gift that
will allow her to keep her promise. Hunter sprinkles the novel with
historical details that are unobtrusive but extensive enough to remind
her audience that the characters, however familiar they seem, inhabit
the past. Recommended.


Hunter, Bernice Thurman., “Amy's Promise,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 24, 2024,