Cover image for Taf
Callan, Annie.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Chicago, IL : Cricket Books, [2001]

Physical Description:
248 pages ; 24 cm
Thinking she has killed her half-brother, twelve-year-old Taf flees her abusive home and sets out to find her long-missing father and on her way from Idaho to Pendleton, Oregon, she discovers not only adventure and sorrow, but also a number of people who love her.
General Note:
"A Marcato book."
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



It's 1915, and Taf is fleeing an abusive home, terrified that she has accidentally killed her stepbrother. Her escape quickly becomes a quest as she sets out to find her long-missing father. Chance and scraps of memory guide her to Pendleton, Oregon. There she meets a boy who hides her, an old woman with second sight, and a beautiful half-Chinese, half-Nez Perce youth. She also faces hard choices: she can follow the inner voice that urges her onward or accept the love of those who care for her, at the price of her dreams. Illuminating the tensions of the period -- the rise of the temperance movement, the intolerance shown foreigners -- this lyrical, beautifully crafted novel speaks directly to contemporary teenagers balancing their yearnings against the pull of home and family.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Poet Callan's (The Back Door) coming-of-age tale, her first novel for children, is as lyrically beautiful and untamed as the West of which she writes. Taffy Stetson, nearly 13, lives in 1915 Idaho with her mother and abusive stepfather. She accidentally drops her little brother one day and, thinking she's killed him, runs away in pursuit of her real father who abandoned them for Oregon. She meets up with a cast of intriguing characters, and eventually washes up in Pendleton, where she falls in love with a half-Chinese, half-Nez Perce artisan. Here the story loses some of its focus in a tangle of subplots: another suitor emerges, Taf's sexuality awakens, she debuts with a musical trio and accepts a stint as caretaker for the daughters of a mentally unbalanced woman, among other things. Ultimately, Taf abandons her quest for her father, having found something far more important instead her self. Despite its structural flaws, the narrative is magical, filled with wildly poetic images ("a long fork of sorrow raked through my body"; "she melted into herself like hot snow") that flow as effortlessly as a refrain through one of the Scottish ballads Taf learned from her father. So, too, does Taf's own voice, tender, irreverent and battered by life, but resilient to the end. If the book is overambitious, the music of this immensely talented writer's prose resonates long after the final page is turned. Ages 12-up. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up-In her first novel, Callan's experience as a poet shines throughout a narrative that is both mythical and realistic. In the second decade of the 20th century, barely adolescent Taf leaves her mother and abusive stepfather's home, spurred both by the fear that she has brought harm to her infant half brother and the lure of the possibility of her own father's presence in the Pacific Northwest. She travels from Idaho into Washington, meeting a lonely boy who shares his secret hiding place in one town and a ready-made family of Basque farmers further along. She continues to Pendleton, OR, where she finds love, in the person of a Chinese-Nez Perce bead artist, and a job with the neglected family of a wool-mill supervisor. Nothing in Taf's life comes easily or without her questioning her own power to change what seems to be destiny. Time moves through as many as four years from her departure to the book's appropriate and unexpected finale, but how the people she meets change her perspective on the events that unfold is more meaningful than is the catalog of events itself. In spite of her age at the onset of the novel (12, maybe 13), it will take older readers to understand Taf's journey to self-actualization. Teens who have read and appreciated Latin American magic realism will be especially intrigued by this historical novel planted firmly in the U.S.-Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.