I don't know how I had time to read the book I'm about to recommend. I was playing for a high school production of Damn Yankees at the time. Piano parts for musicals, at least during the Rogers & Hammerstein era, were actually "reduced orchestrations," every note for every instrument crushed together on two piano staves. In other words, not humanly playable.
I was out of my depth. On the bright side, the pit band made so much racket, I couldn't hear my sour notes. (Which doesn't mean the audience couldn't.)
James Alexander Thom's Follow the River must have been a comforting distraction during this frazzled time. But it's not a book a reader can consume in manageable bites, then put down and run off to rehearsals that run late into the night. I really don't know when I fit it in.
In fact, I recommend you raise your children old enough to feed themselves cereal before you pick up Thom's story. Buy several kinds, because they'll be eating it all three meals for several days.
Thom based River on the true story of a frontier West Virginia woman kidnapped by Indians. Mary Ingles was pregnant at the time, giving birth on the trail as the Shawnees carried her to their Ohio settlement. Biding her time among them, she finally broke away, following the river trail from whence she came. In other words, Mary Ingles went on the ultimate camping trip. She just forgot to stop at Cabela's first.
Do you think my Damn Yankees troubles were so bad that it was restful to escape into Mary Ingles' world? Nah. An orchestra pit might be a confining place, but nothing like a cage in an Indian encampment where she kept a wary eye on her captors. And I might have lost a blouse from sweating through the four performances, but she lost forty pounds from hiking through the woods, living on nuts and berries and . . . oops, better not give away too much now. And the pit band didn't turn on me like the Dutch woman, Mary's traveling companion turned on her.
It was one of those stay-up-late books that caught me mercilessly somewhere before the middle and I either had to stay up and finish, or lay awake fighting off the urge. Will she survive the night, sleeping inside the rotted log? Now is that Dutch woman friend or foe? I'm getting worried by the look in her eye.
If you feel too bad about making the kids eat Cocoa Krispies and Grape Nuts for three days, you could make up a double batch of these to tide them over. Unless you want to eat them all yourself:
Pigs in a Blanket