Kim Vogel Sawyer writes a delightful tale set in 1882 Nebraska, chronicling a year in the life of a town and its new schoolmarm, a woman with unusual ideas, according to the farmers in the rural community. She uses new methods to instill a love of learning in her students. She is far ahead of her time and the townspeople revel in repeating and embellishing things they hear about her.
Living with a local widow keeps her properly chaperoned as various bachelors vie for Miss Amsel’s attention, but she will have none of it. She is determined to do her job as a proper lady and do it well. Her heart has other ideas, however, when the meets the unmarried uncle of two boys in her class.
We meet characters one by one with personalities that come to life in Sawyer’s crisp method of writing. As readers are introduced to the various children, either they endear themselves to the reader or cause her to want to see them punished for their antics. One boy causes her no end of grief, but Miss Amsel has promised not to use “the stick” and she will not go back on her promise. The previous teacher had the children scared to death, and she is determined the children will want to come to school, so she stands by her guns and uses other methods to control her class.
The conditions in early American schools is authentic and the life of early farming communities is clearly presented. Hardships through the year are presented realistically. Miss Amsel is not a Christian when the book begins, but she learns to lean on God before the book is done.
A page turner, one that will keep you interested to the end.