Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Hattie Big Sky - Dee's Thoughts

Excerpt: Hattie Big Sky - Chapter One
December 19, 1917

Arlington, Iowa

Dear Charlie,

Miss Simpson starts every day with a reminder to pray for you—and all the other boys who enlisted. Well, I say we should pray for the Kaiser—he’s going to need those prayers once he meets you!

I ran into your mother today at Uncle Holt’s store. She said word is you are heading for England soon; France after that. I won’t hardly be able to look at the map behind Miss Simpson’s desk now; it will only remind me of how far you are from Arlington.

Mr. Whiskers says to tell you he’s doing fine. It’s been so cold, I’vebeen letting him sleep in my bedroom. If Aunt Ivy knew, she’d pitch a fit. Thank goodness she finally decided I was too big to switch or my legs would be striped for certain.

You should see Aunt Ivy. She’s made herself a cunning white envelope of a hat with a bright red cross stitched on the edge. She wears it to all the Red Cross meetings. Guess she wants to make sure everybody knows she’s a paid-up member. She’s been acting odd lately; even asked me this morning how was I feeling. First time in years she’s inquired about my health. Peculiar. Maybe this Red Cross work has softened her heart.

Mildred Powell’s knitting her fifth pair of socks; they’re not all for you, so don’t get swell-headed. She’s knitting them for the Red Cross. All the girls at school are. But I suspect the nicest pair she knits will be for you. You must cut quite the figure in your uniform. A figure eight! (ha, ha). Seriously, I am certain you are going to make us all
Aunt Ivy’s home from her meeting and calling for me. I’ll sign off now but will write again soon.

Your school friend,
Hattie Inez Brooks

Dee's Thoughts

There are so many things to love about Kirby Larson's Hattie Big Sky. Let's start with the name. Hattie. Hattie is my grandmother's name. How can I not love a book with my grandmother's name in the title? I can hear her voice now. "Vat's dis? A book with my name? It must be a goot one." And it is, grandma. It is.

Beyond the title though, are the details. I'm a detail person and I love the unexpected, not so obvious dangers that presented themselves to Hattie. Like her hand getting frozen to the water pump. So real. So unexepected. It's the little things in life that jump out at us and get us when we're not looking. The details. And there are many more details that jump up and grab Hattie when she's not looking. Yet she overcomes them doing what she does best. Just being her. While the ending isn't maybe what some readers might hope for Hattie, it left me thinking - "Yeah, that's life, perfect in its imperfection." Hattie is a character we all can relate to and should aspire to.

Beyond the title, and beyond the details, is the story. A story of a young woman who goes to Montana and tries to homestead some land left to her. There's mystery, conflict, danger, and a little bit of romance. What's not to love? So as my grandma, Hattie, would say, "Vat's dis? A book with my name? It must be a goot one."


Church Lady said...

Dee, what a fun review!! I'd love to know someone like your grandmother!

I love this excerpt. It says a lot about the mood of the times.

Mary Cunningham said...

I would've loved to have known your grandma, too, Dee. She sounds as special as her granddaughter!

Word said...

I'll always remember something my grandmother told me.

After the birth of my first daughter, I took baby Rachel to visit her great grandmother. She was all of a few days old.

We sat in the small formica table in her kitchen. I placed Rachel in her arms.

Grandma said, "She's a good one. One thing about babies. You can never hold them too much. Never let anyone tell you different."

She would have loved you guys. She would have fed you too! Very well.

Mary Cunningham said...

Beautiful story, word. I have a feeling, between your grandmother and mine, we would've been well-fed! I LOOK like I'm OVER-fed, but my grandmother would've given me good, healthy food from her garden. There's a difference!

Thanks for the comment. Your grandmother was one smart lady.

Church Lady said...

That's a nice memory, Word! Wisdom so true. :-)

Kirby Larson said...

I love these grandma stories! I call Hattie my love letter to my own grandmother, Lois Brown. She wasn't a warm and fuzzy grandma but I adored her. She was an amazing seamstress and taught me how to sew. Who knew that when she made me rip out a seam or a zipper to do it over again, "the right way," that she was teaching me about revision!

Mary Cunningham said...

What a wonderful tribue to your grandma, Kirby. Isn't it amazing how these, sometimes, long-forgotten life-lessons jump back into our lives?

Thanks for stopping by.

Nita said...

Hey, I have a German grandmother, too! Her first name is Greta.
I love the way she pronounce the word 'Germany'. It sort of sounds like 'Jair-many'. I wish I could say it like she does!