Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press; Later Printing edition (April 5, 2011)
Buy the Book: Amazon
Clara Estby is the oldest child of Helga and Ole Estby and lives near Spokane, Washington. Clara has 7 living brothers and sisters and is currently working as a domestic for a wealthy family in Spokane. Her father has been injured and is unable to work and their farm is threatened by foreclosure. In order to save the farm, Clara's mother contracts with a group of sponsors to walk from Spokane to New York City for $10,000. The purpose of the walk was to show the stamina of women and promote the new fashion known as the "reform dress". Against Clara's deepest wishes, her mother insists that Clara accompany her on this trip. They were going to walk 3500 miles over the next 8 months scheduled to arrive in New York City no later than December 13. This book is based on the historical fact of the walk made by Clara and her mother. The author then uses research and speculation to give us the story of what happened to Clara's life after the walk was completed.
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The beginning of this book was very interesting especially because it was based on historical fact. Clara and her mother walked 3500 miles from Spokane, Washington to New York City by themselves. They carried everything they took with them. They faced harsh weather, threats to their safety, illness, and rough terrain. They did it all for $10,000 with which they planned to save the family farm from foreclosure. When they arrived 10 days later than their due date, they were told that they wouldn't receive any of the money. I felt like I was with Clara and her mother every step of the way. I couldn't believe it when they were left stranded in NYC with no money....oh, wait...they were given $5. To make a tragic situation worse, when they finally got back to Washington they were met with the news that 2 of the children had died of diphtheria while they were gone. Clara's father and the remaining children were so angry that no one was allowed to speak of the walk or anything that had happened during that year.
Clara finds that she is unable to live with the restrictions and condemnation that her family wants to place on her. She decides that she will find work for herself and become financially independent never having to worry about money again. This is where the story slows down and I'm sorry to say becomes a little boring. Clara and her family are alienated from each other and neither side is willing to work at reconciling. Clara says that Ida's (her sister closest in age) "wounds ran deep and defined her life even after all these years." What Clara didn't seem to understand was that it also defined her life. Nothing was more important to Clara than financial security and the story details every aspect of her drive to achieve it. The book is an excellent insight to the time period, discussing women's rights, historical events, changes in society. However, I do wish there was more action, either physical or emotional, in the story to better hold my interest.
- Sexual Content: Minor
- Profanity: None
- Violence: None