Saturday, January 24, 2009

Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson

Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson

Hattie Brooks has always been shunted from relative to relative since her mother and father died when she was little. While she is living with her critical Aunt, who is ready to send her to work at a boarding house, she receives an invitation from her Uncle Chester. He has left his 360 acre land in Montana too her in his will, if she is willing to come out and claim it. Hattie takes a train after gathering supplies and settles in on the land, but she has to fulfill the requirements to prove the homesteaders claim. Under the big sky in Montana Hattie works hard on her land, and comes to love her neighbors dearly. She’ll have to work hard in order to prove up on her claim, and earn the title of homesteader by herself.

This is a delightful read about a girl who homesteads in Montana. The characters in the small town of Vida are entertaining with their odd advice, habits, and personalities. The book is set during WWI, and since Hattie’s dearest friend is married to a German the book deals with a lot of the prejudice during that time. Though, I felt that this portrayal was one-sided. Sometimes I feel like historical authors try to give a message, but do so without showing the other viewpoint. Even if this viewpoint is selfish, ugly, or unflattering it was still very real. Everyone that is likable in the story has the “correct” view, but all the unlikable characters are evil and have the “bad” view. I find this a simplistic and unrealistic view of both history and human nature, but this is the pet peeve of a history major so take it for what you will. It really shouldn’t bother me so much, and I’m sort of irrational when it comes to this sort of thing.

Despite my crazy history view I really enjoyed this novel overall, though it did have a few plot things that bugged me, where the author picked up a detail and then dropped it later on in the plot when the action started. For example, say a boy goes back to his locker to get his book, and then runs into a big fight in the hall and a bunch of stuff happens, and the boy doesn’t get the book. Yet, it isn’t mentioned later that he needed the book when he finally got back to class or that he even realized he forgot the book later. Yeah, it really bugs me when authors leave out those type of little details assuming the reader is going to forget/not mind that the thread was dropped. I also thing that this is a little on the irrational side of as far as annoyances go.

From the length of my annoyances and critiques you would think that I wouldn’t recommend this book, but I think it is an entertaining story, with fun characters. If you don’t pick apart stuff when you read like I apparently do then you should try out the book because it is a fun, cozy, clean read. I also really liked the ending, though most people won’t. Maybe it is because my life hasn’t turned out perfect the last year or so either, and I could relate to the character’s experience, and even heartache when plans don't work out the way you expected them to. So, if the book sounds interesting go and read it!

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