Monday, July 7, 2008

Book Review: The Shakeress by Kimberly Heuston

The Shakeress by Kimberly Heuston

Naomi’s life dramatically changes when her family’s farm goes up in flames one night. Her littlest brother and her parents are now gone. The rest of her family, two brothers, one sister, are now living with their mean Aunt Thankful. When Thankful wants to send Naomi off to the mills to work, and separate them Naomi comes up with a plan.

She decides that she want to go live in the shaker community. They take in many orphaned kids since the community doesn’t believe in having children of their own. The change is good for her family and they are given a place to grow their talents. Naomi works in the gardens and helps Sister Martha with doctoring things. Naomi loves learning about plants and doctoring, but still feels that something is missing in her life: a real family.

She leaves the Shaker community to take care of an old lady bed-ridden with liver disease, but when she arrives, some Mormon missionaries have healed her. Naomi continues to live with the Snow family in Vermont, doctoring for their small community, still trying to discover how to fill that missing piece inside her. She may find that it lies with these visiting missionaries.

I stumbled across this book as I was looking for Dante’s Daughter by the same author. The premise of the book immediately intrigued me. A shaker girl converting to Mormonism? I’ve never seen that plot line before. So, I picked it up at the library, and really enjoyed it. The book is well-written and the history well presented. I love how the main character completes a realistic journey to find herself, and has to make hard and scary decisions to progress forward in her life. This would be a really great novel for teenagers because of that theme. There isn't a whole lot of plot, but I really loved the character of Naomi and wanted to know about her story. I really enjoyed reading Shakeress and would recommend it to all who love a really good historical novel.

This novel won an honorable mention in Young Adult Novel from the Association of Mormon Letters in 2002.
A biography of Kimberly Heuston is here:


Anonymous said...

Nice review. I've recently discovered Bayard's Books which seem to have the right mix of education and fun and cater for all ages : StoryBoxBooks, AdventureBoxBooks, DiscoveryBoxBooks

Susan said...

I've never heard of this author, but this sounds like a really interesting book. I'll have to check it out. Thanks!

Joyce DiPastena said...

I'm the one who reviewed Dante's Daughter for the Trek, so you may know that I had a few problems with it. I saw this title (The Shakeress) when I was searching for my copy of Dante's Daughter. My ancestor, Hosea Stout, converted from being a Shaker to joining the LDS Church in the days of Joseph Smith. Maybe I should pick up a copy of The Shakeress and give it a try? Thanks for your review!