Hike Books Forward – August 3

Two books this week worthy of consideration. The first is basically a love story written in 2017, the second is a biography written in 1937. The first is a novel written from a Christian worldview, the second is a true story that reflects the pioneer spirit of the early settlers moving west in the 1870s. Very different books; different genres; different audiences; different settings; and different styles. But both are well-written and enjoyable reads.

 Smoke Screen by Terri Blackstock 

Several stories weave together in this interesting love story, murder mystery, and child custody case. The plot includes arson, the misuse of political power, several child/parent dysfunctional relationships, a pardon from prison, and a deep commitment to healing emotional wounds.

Overall, I really enjoyed this novel by Terri Blackstock. The protagonist, Nate Beckett, was a wildfire fighter with a strong faith and a compassion for people. He is an easy character to like and admire. An injury in the field sends him back “home” after a 14-year absence to many dark details that need to be explored. No spoilers here, just an encouragement to read this quick and easy read. The story is easy to follow, and the plot unfolds with good pacing. The many threads of the story are well defined and come together in a logical way for a good resolution and conclusion.     

On the Banks of Plum Creek (Little House #4) by Laura Ingalls Wilder

I have been slowly working my way through the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. It is not my favorite series, but it does provide an interesting perspective of American Pioneer life written in 1937. In this 4th book in the series, Laura is between seven and nine years old and her perky, mischievous personality is developing in contrast to Mary’s quiet, obedient disposition. The historical setting is from 1875 to 1877 and the setting is (obviously)  on the banks of Plum Creek in Minnesota.  The Ingalls family have relocated from Kansas to Minnesota, have traded their two horses for a farm, and have high hopes for an abundant wheat harvest that will provide financial stability for the family.

This portion of Laura’s autobiography relates the building of their house, attending school with their teacher, Miss Eva Beadle, and going to church services held by Reverend Alden. Nellie Oleson is introduced with all her better-than-thou attitude and actions.  Two different parties – one at the Oleson’s and one at the Ingalls’ – reflect the priorities and personalities of the characters.

Hard times emphasized by the locust and the hard winter show the determination of the family and the persistence of Ma and Pa to survive and thrive in their new home. The vocabulary is easy for younger readers and the stories are easy to understand. Not really my style or genre of interest, but still an amazing series with lots of appeal even after 84 years.

Book Covers found at Goodreads.com

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