Friday, September 30, 2016

"This Road We Traveled" by Jane Kirkpatrick - the story of the Mother of Oregon

This Road We TraveledWhen Tabby Brown's son decides to strike out for Oregon, she is determined to go with, old age, crippled foot and all. Sharing the journey with her family--especially her daughter and oldest granddaughter--gives her the strength to keep going, even in the midst of hardship. On her historic journey to becoming the 'Mother of Oregon,' she discovers that even an old woman has plenty to learn.

Based on the history of Tabitha Brown, Pherne Pringle, and Virgilia Pringle--real women who followed the Oregon Trail

I enjoyed the unique perspective of the story, told by mother, daughter, and granddaughter, though it's not a perspective I would normally seek out. Tabby, Pherne, and Virgilia each have a very different outlook on life: Tabby, the old woman, wholly in the present, taking each day as it comes. Pherne, the middle-aged mother, looking back and grieving what is left behind. And Virgilia, the young woman, looking to the future.

There's a lot of food for thought in the story. When one thinks of the Oregon Trail, the hardships along the way are generally what comes to mind--from sickness to dangerous water crossings to getting caught too late in the season and encountering storms. And they are significant. But what resonated with me most was all the things they left behind--not just beautiful homes and family heirlooms, but family who chose not to make the trek. The grave of a child. In all likelihood, they would never return to see what and who was left behind. I could really understand Pherne's reluctance to leave.

Stories based on real people are not always as satisfying as those entirely imagined--what with real life intruding, and all--but I was mostly content with this one. It wasn't always exciting, and it certainly wasn't a romance, and I don't think I would read it again, but it has its place. I could see it being a good book for school.

Thank you Revell for providing a free book to review; I was not required to make the review positive, and all opinions are my own.

Related novels:
A Light in the Wilderness
The Memory Weaver 

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