Bryce Milligan cleverly telescopes time back to pre-revolutionary Texas to recount the adventures of some hardy Irish immigrants in With the Wind, Kevin Dolan. . . . Milligan made a point of writing this, his first novel, for younger readers, though his narrative style is entertaining enough to engage parents as well as young adults, though on occasion a bit long-winded in a characteristically Celtic way.
As Milligan notes in his prefatory remarks, the names of certain families and ships in the book are drawn from documentary records, and its "events" are derived from what is known historically of the beginnings of the Power Colony in the vicinity of Refugio, Texas, in 1834. His principal characters, Tom and Kevin Dolan, though, are entirely fictional. As characterizations of brawn and brain respectively, the two are rounded out through witty anecdotal incidents, from playing pranks on English soldiers to encountering Indians in Texas.
Yet what distinguishes this first novel from the multitude of other stories for the "young adult" is its frank and non-ideological treatment of the moral problems of political and economic oppression. Milligan does not simply use the novel as a polemic against the English and the policies which impoverished their Irish subjects. Most remarkably, Milligan allows Kevin to contemplate the ironies of a Texas where " . . . Mexico was oppressing both the colonists and its own Mexican citizens. The Texans were oppressing the Indians whose land this was to begin with, and it seemed clear the United States was intent on killing every Indian who tried to hold onto a piece of land that a white man wanted."
Add to that Kevin's reluctance to join American Protestants in revolt against Catholic Mexico and you have a necessarily different characterization of what it meatn to be an early Texan colonist than has generally been offered to young readers.
Causes Bryce Milligan Supports
Almost anything that is not Republican. I am a pacifist, vegetarian, Green and Left.