A Light in the Wilderness

A Light in the Wilderness

A Novel

Book - 2014
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Letitia holds nothing more dear than the papers that prove she is no longer a slave. They may not cause white folks to treat her like a human being, but at least they show she is free. She trusts in those words she cannot read--as she is beginning to trust in Davey Carson, an Irish immigrant cattleman who wants her to come west with him.

Nancy Hawkins is loathe to leave her settled life for the treacherous journey by wagon train, but she is so deeply in love with her husband that she knows she will follow him anywhere--even when the trek exacts a terrible cost.

Betsy is a Kalapuya Indian, the last remnant of a once proud tribe in the Willamette Valley in Oregon territory. She spends her time trying to impart the wisdom and ways of her people to her grandson. But she will soon have another person to care for.

As season turns to season, suspicion turns to friendship, and fear turns to courage, three spirited women will discover what it means to be truly free in a land that makes promises it cannot fulfill. This multilayered story from bestselling author Jane Kirkpatrick will grip readers' hearts and minds as they travel with Letitia on the dusty and dangerous Oregon trail into the boundless American West.

Publisher: Grand Rapids, MI :, Revell,, [2014]
Copyright Date: ©2014
ISBN: 9780800722319
Branch Call Number: F KIR
Characteristics: 314 pages : maps ; 22 cm


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Feb 05, 2019

Confession: I skimmed the last two-thirds of this book, so there's probably nuance my review will miss. What I searched those two-thirds for, and what I really want to know, is whether the Eliza case is ever explained. I feel like "did the main character's husband rape a woman" is something that deserves more page time than we got. I would very much like to know the deal with that, or at least get an ambiguity that is given more weight and consideration within the text than occasional "that minx Eliza" references. I was also struck by Letitia's thought that Eliza might have falsely accused Davey. It's plausible she might think that- people contain multitudes!- but I would really like the story to drill down on why a black woman who has herself been raped by white men would give that serious consideration. That's gonna take a lot more character-specific detail to make sense, and it really jarred me out of the reading.
That was the first time in this book I thought, "maybe you shouldn't have written this," but I kept having that thought, with varying emphases on "you", "shouldn't", and "this". The concept of the book is fascinating. Unfortunately, there's this weird thing that happens where it ~contains~ wrenching emotional complexity driven by awful circumstances, but something about the pacing and style makes it feel fractured and flat. Overall it just made me want to go back and reread An Extraordinary Union, for 1800's interracial romance, and Komarr, for a bad husband who dies.
P.S. I said a lot of negative things about this book. Some of the descriptions of nature are very pretty.

Dec 29, 2016

2nd Oregon Trail book I've read by this author this month. This one is based on the life of Letitia Carson who was a freed slave who married and travelled the trail with an Irish immigrant. Good historical fiction of a strong woman who survived prejudice, tragedy and the hardships of pioneer life. Only 3 stars because although the author comes up with great story ideas, her writing style seems to keep me at a distance. I'm not pulled into the emotions and feelings of the characters. However, I still enjoy reading about these real people in history in a story that's more entertaining than a biography.

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