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March 2023

A cute story about the difficulties of starting middle school. Kelly and her friends struggle to find their niche, and all of their problems seem to wrap up neatly by the middle of 6th grade and the end of the book. If only middle school had been that easy. . .

A trilogy, set in 1815, that follows the journey of the Nye family from their comfortable life in Connecticut to the wilderness of New York. Pioneer life is certainly not romanticized in this series, as the Nye family must contend with many difficulties. The main character, Remembrance, is very likeable, and you grow to admire her as she takes on more and more responsibility for her family’s survival.

I very much enjoyed these books. I’ve read a lot of “pioneer fiction,” but still learned a lot from this series. The second book, Frozen Summer covered the true events in the summer of 1816, when snows and killing frosts were felt all summer long in most of Northern New England and New York. These were later discovered to be a result of the eruption of Tambora, but at the time, the settlers truly feared that the world was ending.

Rose Nolan and her family immigrate to the United States in 1911. But before the family is allowed to leave Ellis Island, her father is sent back to Ireland with her sick brother. Rose, her mother and 2 younger sisters go to stay in New York with her uncle, but her mother soon tires of waiting for her father, and returns home. However, in spite of the difficulties, Rose and her sister Maureen are enamored with the new country and decide to stay and fend for themselves.

Rose soon finds work at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. She makes friends, enjoys her work and the pay, and is content with her new life. But when a deadly fire rips through the factory, Rose is challenged more than she ever thought possible.

I really enjoyed this book, in spite of the dread that was hanging over me while I waited for the fire to happen. The book definitely portrays sympathy for worker’s unions. Given the conditions that Rose worked in, you can see why unions were so necessary. In spite of my disagreements with much of what unions do today, I do appreciate the contributions they have made to this country, and Auch does a good job of illustrating some of these in her book.