She thinks of herself as Hattie Here-and-There. That's because, after her parents died when she was young, she was shuffled from one relative to another - never settling in one place for long. At age 13 she moves in with Uncle Holt (really a distant cousin) and Aunt Ivy. For three years she is at the mercy of the rather unkind and bossy Ivy.
Then things begin to look up.
A real uncle (her mother's brother) has died and left Hattie his 320-acre homestead in Montana. Hattie, now 16, leaves Iowa and sets her sights west to, like so many others, make a home for herself.
Such is the tale that takes place in 1918 as told in Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson. The story is based on the homesteading experiences of the author's great-grandmother.
I am reading about Hattie along with a young woman who is going into the eighth grade and is not too fond of reading. Her mother and I are hoping that having someone to talk to about the story will help her to become enamored with the saga of Hattie.
Just a few chapters in, I already am loving this book. For someone so young, Hattie is brave to take on such an enormous responsibility alone but it is just that "backbone" that her deceased Uncle Chester was counting on when he left her the homestead.
The author has given Hattie an engaging voice and manages to paint a picture of life in that part of America against the backdrop of World War I. For example, here is a list of the supplies Hattie buys her first day in Wolf Point, the town that is thirty miles from her new home:
one-quarter barrel of wheat flour
25 pounds of sugar (this is rationed due to the war)
15 pounds cornmeal
20 pounds of coffee
raisins and other dried fruits
a tin of loose tea
tinned meats and canned goods
I can't imagine having to travel 30 miles to do my shopping and having to buy groceries in those quantities.
Anyway, we will just have to see how Hattie handles her new life in Big Sky Montana. I have a feeling she will do just fine.