Hattie Big Sky
by Kirby Lawson
At war with foreign powers, dark elements of American society emerge: people of certain nationalities are marginalized and those who aren’t public enough with their support for the troops are degraded as “unpatriotic”. Sound familiar? This is the world of Hattie Big Sky: 1917. America is at war with Germany, and Americans of German descent are paying a heavy toll of discrimination on the homefront.
Sixteen year old Hattie Brooks comes to find all this as she struggles to prove up on her late uncle’s homestead claim in Montana, Big Sky Country. “Hattie Here-and-There” has been passed from family member to family member since the death of her parents, and when her late uncle leaves her his claim in his will, she jumps at the chance to take control of her life. Hattie throws herself into frontier life whole-heartedly, dealing with both deep friendships and complex enemies on her path. Throughout her journey, Hattie keeps in touch with her old friend Charlie, who is fighting in the war in Europe, and through their correspondence, the reader finds that together, Hattie and Charlie are each fighting their own wars for the best of the American spirit.
Fans of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series will find a familiar tone here and a colorful cast of neighboring frontier characters to rival Wilder’s. Hattie’s unabashed optimism is put to the test, but her hard-working spirit and strong friendships pull her through and keep her reaching for the sky.
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Review by Steve Thomas