I just finished Hattie Big Sky this evening and absolutely loved it. Kirby Larson did a fantastic job of breathing life into history. Hattie shows strength, compassion, and a stubbornness that keeps her going when many would give up and walk away. Hattie is an orphaned teenager trying to find her place in the world. When she inherits a homestead claim in Montana, she packs up and heads out to give it a shot. Fear, bitter cold, drought, money problems, and many other outside forces make the going hard, but Hattie continues to fight for her claim through it all.
I appreciated Larson's sense of humor. There were many lines that made me chuckle, like when someone said, he's "one sandwich short of a picnic when it comes to common sense" p. 180. I also enjoyed when ladylike Hattie said, "truth be told, there is nothing like the occasional outburst of profanity to calm jangled nerves" p. 54. She made me smile more than once. Along with humor, there were also passages that inspired deep thought about life, war, grief, and compassion.
Another fun part about this book was that it made me wonder. I had to know where Vida, Montana sits and wanted to know more about it. When I looked it up online, I found some fascinating pictures from around that time. In fact, it seems that these are family pictures of some of the characters Larson had in the story. Larson also provides some pictures of the "real" Hattie on her own website in her gallery. I also wondered about one of the phrases used several times in the book. When I first encountered it, I had to immediately look up "pie crust promises." They are those promises easily made and easily broken. When I posted that definition, Maria Selke cracked me up when she tweeted back, "Clearly they haven't made good pie crust.
#HarderThanItLooks" People in the past must have been much better at the whole pie crust thing, because I am seldom finding pie crust easily or quickly made.
I am excited because now that I am finished reading the book, I can finally look at Colby and Jen's posts without fear of spoilers. They have been discussing the book on Colby Sharp's blog because it is the selection for the Sharp-Schu Book Club this month. I am hoping to join them at 7 CDT on Sept. 5th for what I imagine will be a lively Twitter conversation. Hope to "see" you there!