Sunday, January 8, 2012

These is my Words

I recently read the novel These is my Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine 1881-1901 Arizona Territory by Nancy E. Turner.  I didn't come across this book on my own; one of the book clubs I am in choose this book.  Honestly, I don't think I would have, actually I am sure I wouldn't have, picked this book on my own.  To be honest, I was bugged by the title; the poor grammar was killing me.  Of course, I eventually saw the reason for the title the author gave this book, but it still bugs me a bit.

Speaking of bad grammar, the beginning of the book has atrocious grammar and spelling, but that is, of course, for good reason.  The main character, the diary/voice of Sarah Prine, was an uneducated teenager.  When I think of teenagers today and the many bad grammatical papers I have read I can completely understand why an uneducated teenager would write this way.  I have known teenagers who have gone to school their entire life and still write with poor grammar.  I guess grammar is difficult.  What I did appreciate in this novel is that Sarah Prine thirsted after knowledge.  She read a lot, which I am a big fan of, and wanted to learn; having the desire to learn is the biggest step to becoming an educated person.  Sarah's desire to learn led her to becoming an educated person throughout her life.  

This story takes place in the late 1800's in the Arizona Territory.  I had never read a book with this setting, and I came to quickly realize that I could not have handled living in the Arizona Territory during that time.  It was hard.  Actually, I don't think hard even gives it justice.  It was both physically and emotionally brutal to live in the territories back then.

The Prine family start the story traveling from the New Mexico Territory to San Angelo, which I loved reading in a book b/c that is where I was born and it is not a large place.  The wagon ride to San Angelo included the loss of a couple family members, as well as a good portion of violence.  There was violence with Indian tribes that attacked them; there was also violence from evil men they unfortunately came across along the way.  Sarah and a few girls from another wagon traveling with the Prines stopped at this stream to bathe.  A very bad white man and his buddy pulled a knife on the girls and rapped one of them.  There wasn't a crystal clear picture of the rape, but it does tell you what is happening.  It was quite disturbing to me, but rapes and things of that nature are always disturbing to me.

Throughout the book there was violence with bad men they came across or came across them; I guess this taught me that that time period had some evil bad men, just like any time period.  One thing I really liked about Sarah, the main character, is that she was tough and always put up a fight.

Even though all of the hard and sad things that occurred were difficult to read it was still very realistic; I could see everyone of those events occurring during that time, and it made me grateful that I did not live back then.  Living in the territories in the 1800's was not for the pansies; you had to be incredibly strong and tough both physically and emotionally to survive such a hard place.

This book was definitely sad, but it was still an enjoyable read.  When I was nearing the end of the book I knew something bad was going to happen.  However, I couldn't figure out exactly when it was going to happen.  I kept wanting to read the book, even in the wee hours of the morning, to find out what happened. I was dreading what was going to happen, but I had to know.

School Library Journal gave the review below for These is my Words.  They actually stated the book was YA, Young Adult, but I am not sure I agree with that.  I think it would be quite difficult for YA's to want to read this book and relate to it.  I think it is better suited for adults.  I found myself laughing and relating to the trials Sarah had with being pregnant, becoming pregnant quicker than she had planned, giving birth, and the high activity level of young boys.  Obviously, there are other things you might find relatable and that is how it should be, but I do think that adults will be able to connect with this book much better/easier than young adults.  I think this book is geared towards adults and upper YAs.

"This novel in diary format parallels the early history of the Arizona Territories as Sarah and her family travel from the New Mexico Territory and settle down to carve out a new life on a ranch near Tucson in the 1880s. Sarah's diary, based on the author's family memoirs, is a heartwarming and heartbreaking fictional account of a vibrant and gifted young woman. Sarah starts out as an illiterate, fiery 17 year old. Eventually, her writing becomes as smooth and polished as Sarah herself as she becomes a tenacious, literate, and loving wife and mother. A treasure trove of discovered books becomes the source of her self-education. Turner describes the trip in such detail that one has a sense of having traveled with Sarah, experiencing all of its heartache and sadness, its backbreaking exertion and struggles, its danger and adventure, its gentle and lighter moments. Life in the new country brings the constant fear of Indian raids and the threat and reality of floods, fire, and rattlesnakes; bandits; rough men, and pretentious women all have an effect on the protagonist but her strong marriage makes the effort worthwhile. Sarah centers her world around her home and family but maintains an independent spirit that keeps her whole and alive throughout her many trials and heartaches. This is a beautifully written book that quickly captures readers' attention and holds it tightly and emotionally until the end." 

All in all, I enjoyed this book; it was a good book and I am glad I read it.  Way to go book club for expanding my horizons and selecting a book I normally would not have picked.  If I were to give this book a rating I think I would give it a 3.75 out of 5 stars; it is close to 4 stars but not quite there b/c it was slow and dragged on a bit at times.  However, I would still suggest this book for those that enjoy historical fiction reads.  

No comments:

Post a Comment