Title: The Year We Were Famous
Author: Carole Estby Dagg
Publisher: Clarion Books
Page #: 246
Source: ARC from the author
To be published in April 2011
"With their family home facing foreclosure, seventeen-year-old Clara Estby and her mother, Helga, need to raise a lot of money fast - no easy feat for two women in 1896. Helga wants to tackle the problem with her usual loud and flashy style, while Clara favors a less showy approach. Together they come up with a plan to walk the 4,600 miles from Mica Creek, Washington to New York City - and if they can do it in only seven months, a publisher has agreed to give them $10,000.
Based on the true story of the author's great-aunt and great-grandmother, this is a fast-paced historical adventure that sets the drama of Around the World in Eighty Days against an American backdrop during the time of the suffragist movement, the 1896 presidential campaign, and the changing perception of a 'woman's place' in society."
"I arranged a dozen winter-blooming Johnny jump-ups in a tall pill bottle and set them on tray along with three biscuits and coffee in Ma's best teacup. As if it might bite, I took a deep breath and lifted the letter by one corner and laid it across the top of the tray."
I wasn't sure what to expect with this book. I don't know that I've read many novels that are based on a real story. But what an amazing story this is! I couldn't believe that it really happened - and at the time it happened. Not to mention the awesomeness of this author writing about her ancestors.
This is the story of a mother and daughter who get sponsored to walk from Washington state to New York City. They do it all to save their farm because of money troubles. The woman in NYC offers them $10,000 to do the trip and write a book about it in the end. This is their story of traveling across snowy mountains, hot lava fields, through Indian reservations, and much more. It's the story of the people they meet and what they learn about themselves along the way.
I was a little worried about how much time the book covers - and how much you might miss (because the book is fairly short), but the author does an amazing job pulling out the really important parts and giving you the main story line. There is a lot of time not covered, but you can imagine that not much happened... besides being tired and finding a place to sleep and eat for the night.
That was one thing that really surprised me - Helga and Clara depending completely on the kindness of strangers to take care of them. I guess I have a hard time believing it because of the time we live in now. Can you imagine taking someone in for the night because they are weary travelers? I don't think so. Even if they had a letter from the governor like they did. It's just amazing to me that people were so trusting.
This book is also set in a time where women's suffrage is just becoming a huge topic. So part of this story is about how women are just as good as men - and how they can do anything they set their minds to. I loved that aspect. I think that gives the book a whole other level of interest. Many of the people they meet along the way are women who are fighting to equal rights - and even women living in a home where she's fighting to be seen as equal. A very cool look at that part of history.
Speaking of history, I'm not exactly well-versed in all things history. In fact, I'm not very good at knowing historical facts and all that. But there were a few parts of this story that I found myself questioning the accuracy. Just phrases or words used that seem a little more modern to me. Again, I have no idea... it just might bother someone who is more well-read on history topics.
All in all, I really enjoyed this book. It was a super-fast read and I've already handed it off to one of my coworkers and mentioned it to someone else. I think this is a great book for teens. I have a lot who come in looking for historical fiction for classes, and this one is the right length and interest for that. I'll definitely be recommending it. It's an amazing adventure, so I think boys will be able to get into it as well.
The author is a debut this year and I look forward to reading more from her in the future. Well done! Her website has lots of historical information, as well as info on the author. Check it out.
Other Blog Reviews:
Damsels in Regress
Well, we have a couple of months until this one comes out. So not many people have reviewed it yet. I look forward to reading others when it comes out!