Hattie Big Sky
by Kirby Larson
I've read a few books about homesteading in America—My Antonia, Our Only May Amelia, Little House in the Big Woods—and most have been pretty good.
This one was excellent.
I didn't start reading it expecting much, not even a few chapters in, but the farther in I got...well. The first thing I began to think was how spoiled I was pressed up against a baseboard heater reading it while it is a mere 39 degrees outside, while Hattie was living through a frozen Montana winter with little else between her and the harsh world was a shack, a cat, and a wood stove. (I so would've died. I'd make a lousy pioneer.)
Also, it seems that most books these days leave religion entirely out of the equation, or dance around it, or if it is put in, it seems so...forced, sappy, and sentimental (not to mention self-conscious). But Hattie, who is a religious person of sorts—her conversations with God were so natural and beautiful, as was her faith. It was refreshing to read that. (And because she was so honest, it was assuming or forceful—just there and peaceful.)
Also, the ending wasn't neat and tidy, wrapped with a bow, as happens in some stories (and of course, there's nothing wrong with that, unless it is a story where the author is really trying for authenticity and reality). There was heartache, and mess, and the story sometimes came to a place I wasn't expecting. More like life, if you know what I mean.
And that's all I'll say about it, because I don't want to spoil it for anyone else. (It's only lousy books that I'll blow parts of the plot out into the open, like that incredibly stupid book I read before this one.)