Hattie Big Sky
After the death of her parents, Hattie Brooks has spent her life moving from one relative to another, many of whom would just as soon not have her. While she is living with a distant cousin, Uncle Holt, and his wife, Aunt Ivy, in Arlington, Iowa, in 1917, she finds out that she has inherited the 320-acre Montana homestead claim of her mother’s brother. However, it still needs to be proved up. Hattie is only sixteen years old—dare she take on this challenge? The property needs to be fenced and forty acres need to be cultivated, and she just has ten months left to do it. But since Aunt Ivy has decided it is time for her to leave school and begin working in a boardinghouse, she decides to strike out on her own. She finds her neighbors, Perilee and Karl Mueller and their children, to be welcoming and eager to help her out. However, the war makes itself felt throughout this novel. Chapters begin with excerpts from Hattie’s letters to a friend who is fighting in France, and the news from home often brings bad tidings of others she knows who are soldiers. In the environs of Vida, Montana, anti-German feeling is growing, making life for the Muellers very uncomfortable.
Hattie is a remarkable character, and a joy to spend time with. The first person point of view adds to this vibrant tale of the homesteading life, a life filled with pleasures and many privations, and subject to the incredible force of nature. Ages 12 and up.