Rachel, Book 2: The Maybe House


95 pages
Contains Maps
ISBN 0-14-331208-1
DDC jC813'.54




Illustrations by Heather Collins
Reviewed by Dosi Cotroneo

Dosi Cotroneo is a freelance writer living in Manotick, Ontario.


Rachel and her family may have found freedom in Birchtown, Nova Scotia,
having escaped slavery in South Carolina, but now they’re having to
face terrible living conditions in the Negro Loyalist settlement. The
pit they live in, which is lined with stones and covered with a board,
seems to be getting smaller and hotter every day as they desperately
wait for Titan, Rachel’s stepfather, to build them a real house. In
the meantime, Rachel feels it’s all just a maybe house.

Soon Titan surprises the family with a house he has been secretly
building, and Rachel doesn’t remember ever feeling happier. But to
Rachel, real freedom means learning how to read and write. When she goes
to town to buy herself something nice, the racist British colonists
treat her very badly. This motivates Rachel even more to make her dream
of reading a reality. She asks a

white boy, Nathan Crowley, if he will teach her. At first he says, no,
but eventually he comes around.

Just as Rachel is feeling happy again and proud of her new learning,
something terrible happens. Decommissioned British soldiers who have
returned from the American War of Independence, discovering that they
can’t find jobs because the blacks are willing to work for so little,
cause a riot and Rachel’s house is burned down. Will Rachel and her
family ever have a home of their own again?

Lynne Kositsky’s story of a courageous young girl’s perseverance
and hope is both poignant and inspiring. The story also illuminates a
little-known period of Canadian history in which conditions for Loyalist
blacks living in Canada were so bad that two-thirds of them ended up
leaving the country, sailing to Africa. This is another fine book in the
Our Canadian Girl series. Highly recommended.


Kositsky, Lynne., “Rachel, Book 2: The Maybe House,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 29, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/23521.