Sunday, April 22, 2012

Wildflowers from Winter

This debut novel for Katie Ganshert was an excellent read, in my opinion. The protagonist, Bethany Quinn, grew up living in a trailer in her small town in Iowa and being the girl everybody overlooked. Because of the death of her dad and some other things that happened to her, she was bitter and angry, and had given up on God. She was estranged from her past and had not talked to friends and family since she left home ten years prior.

When the book opens, she has a successful career as an architect in Chicago. Her mother called to tell her about her grandfather's heart attack and her former friend's sick husband, so Bethany went home for a few days.

She met Evan, who had been living with her grandpa and helping him on the farm for the past ten years, and their personalities clashed. In fact, her personality clashed with everyone. She had built walls to protect herself, and she was not willing to come out from behind them.

The book focused on the reasons for Bethany's harsh personality. She refused to talk about God, even though Evan and her friend, Robin, continued to witness to her. She refused to connect with people who remembered her, and she refused to talk to her mother. Alternating chapters told about Bethany's present life, and the year when she was twelve, when her father died. The author did a good job explaining the reasons for Bethany's disinterest in friendship or intimacy with anyone.

At the death of Bethany's grandfather, she inherited his large farm. But Evan, the man who worked for her grandfather, got the house. There had to be a way for them to work together so they both could attain their goals. In addition, her firm downsized and let her go. She moved in with Robin, her friend from high school, and together they began to unravel things from the past.

When Bethany began to realize some things about herself and open up to people, the reader could see a drastic change. Read the book to find out what happened. I finished this book in a day and a half and I recommend it highly.

I received this book free from Waterbrook Multnomah for my honest review.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Teen-Age Pregnancy in the 1950's

I recently received a Kindle and have been enjoying downloading books and reading them voraciously. One of the books I read was THE THIRD FLOOR by Judi Loren Grace. This book told about an teenager in the 1950's who found herself pregnant and was sent away from her family to live in a home for unwed mothers, thus eliminating embarrassment to her family, especially her father, who was a politician.

I remember hearing of homes like this because I was a young teen-ager during the 1950's. I remember asking about one of the girls in my class who suddenly disappeared. The other girls snickered and giggled, embarrassed, as they told me she was gone to have a baby. I knew nothing about how this happened, but I tucked this information away. I never saw my classmate again. No doubt, she was spurned because she had had a baby out of wedlock.

In this book, the girls were made to live in dormitory-like rooms, but were never given any information about how babies were born or what would happen to them. They were told that whenever their labor pains began, they were to pack their suitcase and walk to the third floor, where their baby would be delivered. The girls in the dorms never saw their friends again. They were whisked out the backdoor of the third floor and sent back home, with or without their babies.

In this book, the main character told her story in the first person. She took her baby home, but her mother arranged a "back-door" deal and gave the baby away. Years later, she found her son, and also located her good friend from her time in the home.

Times have certainly changed from the 1950's. Now unwed pregnancy is not viewed as it was in the past. Girls who are pregnant before marriage are not treated today as they were then.

I recommend this book. It was well-written and the characters were real to me as I read it. It is a fast read. I downloaded it free on my Kindle.

The Daughter's Walk

Jane Kirkpatrick's historical novel about a walk across America by a mother and daughter in 1896 brings many issues to light. This feisty woman decided to walk from Spokane, Washington, to New York City, a distance of 3,500 miles, to advertise a new line of clothing for the modern woman, a shorter dress that exposed her ankles. Her spunky idea was formed when the clothing industry offered $10,000 to a person who would do it, and she needed to money to save her family's farm.

Helga, the mother, was ingenious in her endeavor. As they travelled, she found places to speak to tell about their journey. Clara, the daughter, did not want to go on the journey at first, but she became a willing helper before it was over. They kept a diary and collected artifacts. Clara drew pictures to tell about their adventure. Their hope was to write a book about it when it was over.

This was an actual event which was supposed to take seven months. However, because of circumstances, the women did not reach their destination on time and the sponsors withheld their payment. The women were left in New York City with no money and no way to get back home. They found employment to care for themselves and to try to save money to buy their tickets.

When they finally arrived home, Ole, the father, and Ida, the sister who had been left in charge of the younger children, were bitter with resentment because of the long absense of their mother and sister. This deep resentment eventually drove Clara away, and she found employment with a woman she had met on the trip.

Clara stayed with her employer for the next twenty years, estranged from her family, who refused to accept her monetary help. They lost their farm and lived poorly. They refused to let their mother write or talk about her trip, and rebuffed every effort Clara made to remain on good terms with them.

This book is not a "happily-ever-after" one, but is one that depicts the stresses that arise in families when conflicts come. This Norwegian family felt that their mother and sister had abandoned them. Then, when Clara went to work for one of the people who had orignally sponsored the trip, they said she was taking "dirty money" and they could not forgive her. This book was very well written and impelling with its honesty and openness. It was provided to me free by Waterbrook Multnomah for my honest review.