I Am Regina by Sally M. Keehn

Source: Public Library
Paperback, 240 pages
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I Am Regina by Sally M. Keehn (on Kobo) is a book for ages 10+ set during the French & Indian War that re-imagines the story of young Regina Leininger, who was captured by Indians and lived with them during this time.  The protagonist in Keehn’s story, 10-year-old Regina, is taken from her home after her mother leaves to mill the corn before the winter comes.  She’s traumatized by the ordeal that takes the life of her father and one of her brothers.  Her sister, Barbara, is taken as well, but they are soon parted as the tribes divvy up their spoils.

“It must be November now.  My eleventh birthday has passed and I have had no time to mark it.  The cries of geese no longer fill the sky.  Frost coats the ground and ice skims the wide and shallow stream we have been following southward through this wooded valley.” (page 59)

Until the tribes take her, from her German immigrant family, and she is forced to carry a young girl with her through treacherous terrain, Regina has little struggle in her life, except for the chores assigned to her by her parents.  Her mother always considered her a wanderer and a dreamer, but for the most part, she had a settled life in the frontier.  The trek to the village with Tiger Claw, a man who has seen battle with the White man and bears the scars to prove it, nearly exhausts her, but she is still ill-prepared for the life she will lead among the Indians.  Tribe life is hard and the women do most of the chores, and Regina is forced to struggle with her own identity, her faith, and fitting in with this new “family.”

Keehn does a great job balancing more adult themes with a middle grade audience, without sugar-coating or glossing over the dangerous possibilities Regina must face as a white squaw maturing into womanhood.  The author also is never heavy-handed with her treatment of Regina’s faith, but instead demonstrates how it is a source of strength for the protagonist as she acclimates herself and finds her place.

Unlike Indian Captive, which is about another woman captured by tribes, the prose here is more accessible, possibly because of the first-person point of view used.  While Regina does not leave the village, she is still touched by the French and Indian War, and she is subject to the loss of trade when the French are defeated.  She finds solace in the young girl she carried all those miles and in her new friendship with Nonschetto, but the strength of I Am Regina by Sally M. Keehn is in the protagonist and her struggles with identity and what it is to be who we are and who are families are and become.

Check out the discussions Anna and I had at War Through the Generations.

About the Author:

Sally Keehn can remember her childhood days in Annapolis, Maryland – days spent reading, horseback riding, swimming, and exploring the woods surrounding her grandfather’s farm. Though she would bid Annapolis good-bye at the age of nineteen to embark on an English degree at Hood College, Keehn’s days of “exploring” were just beginning.

11th book (French and Indian War) for the 2014 War Challenge With a Twist.






15th book for 2014 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge.





24th book for 2014 New Author Challenge.


  1. I was surprised by how good this book was. I don’t know what I was expecting; maybe I thought it would be too simplistic given the target audience? But it wasn’t at all.
    Anna (Diary of an Eccentric)´s last blog post ..Review: For Such a Time by Kate Breslin

    • I think the target audience really sets the expectations lower when reading this book, because as we discussed a certain topic came up once she was in the Indian village that we didn’t think the author would touch given the audience, and she surprised us.

  2. This is probably at my level since I know next to nothing about the French & Indian War.