While I listened to it on CD, my 88-year-old mother enjoyed reading it. This blog will include both our reactions to this hard-to-put-down book.
Set in early-20th century Montana, the story focuses on 16-year-old Hattie who just inherited her uncle's 320-acre claim. Since I listened with my writer's hat on, this is what I appreciated:
- I loved how the book opened just as Hattie's life changes. The reader sees how Hattie has been orphaned and shifted from one relative to another. The inciting event happens quickly: the fateful letter declaring her inheritance arrives.
- Larson uses beautiful language to describe the Montana landscape as well as Hattie's tumultuous feelings.
- Hattie's external and internal goals are clearly portrayed. She has to clear 40 acres and set 480 posts in 10 months or lose the claim. Internally, she longs for a home-- for a place where she will no longer be "Hattie Here and There."
- Each obstacle to Hattie's success produces tension in the story. A shifty single man who desires her and her land, hail, her own exhaustion, her uncle's unpaid bills--all of these work to have the reader rooting for Hattie.
- Larson weaves in several interesting sub-plots: World War I, Hattie's growing affection for her hometown friend serving in the war, her love for reading and writing, and the anti-German sentiment in America.
My mother immigrated to the United States in 1936 from Germany and never reads anything about WWII. I was wondering if the references to the Huns or the anti-German hatred which impacted Hattie would bother her. When I asked her she replied simply, "That was before my time."
Kirby is donating an autographed copy to one fortunate winner. Mothers, grandmothers, aunts, teachers...leave me a comment and you might win! Just make sure you read the book before you give it away (or give it with a promise that you'll get to read it too!)
Here are the giveaway rules:
CONTEST ENDS THE EVENING OF WEDNESDAY DECEMBER 12TH!
Next blog up: Kirby shares the personal back story that led her to writing this book. And you'll have the chance to win Hattie Big Sky on CD!