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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Despite Small problems, Sarah's Quilt Sews Up Nicely

I waited so long to check in with Sarah Agnes Prine, I'd forgotten how much I adore her. Her story begins in These Is My Words by Nancy E. Turner, then continues in Sarah's Quilt. Although I didn't enjoy the latter as much as I did the former, I was still glued to Sarah's every word. You will be, too.

Sarah's Quilt continues Sarah's journal, with entries from the year 1906. And what a year it is. A terrible drought has seized the Arizona Territory, sizzling Sarah's crops and killing her cattle. Despite wishes and prayers, rain eludes them, leaving the land to bake and wither under the unrelenting sun. As if the weather hasn't brought Sarah enough troubles, she soon receives a letter from her brother Harland, which tells of the terrifying earthquake that has leveled their San Francisco home. Sarah rushes to their rescue. After torrential rain in California, she is disappointed to find that none has reached the desert. Her ranch is still suffering. To her dismay, she finds that Mother Nature isn't the only culprit - someone has tampered with her well. Desperation finally causes the family to hire a water witch, a strange man who sets Sarah's teeth on edge. Soon, another stranger arrives to cause her angst: Willie Prine, a teenage nephew Sarah has never met. Before the summer's through, Sarah will be up to her neck in troubles, from Willie's childish acts to her mother's "addled" mind to tornadoes, wildfire, and two men vying for her attention. Amidst it all, she must fight with all her strength to save the ranch she loves.

While Sarah's Quilt teems with action and drama, it's the characters that really make the book shine. All of them, even down to a poet cowhand, are memorable. Sarah, herself, makes an honest, believable narrator. Her strength and forthrightness demand respect, while her trials and sorrows make her real and sympathetic. I literally laughed and cried with her. She feels that real. Sarah's saga is so moving because she's a strong character who tells her story simply and beautifully, without melodrama or saccharine sentimentality.

I thought the plot presented surprises aplenty, although I felt the human source of Sarah's problems was obvious enough. It took her the whole story to see the truth, of course, but you'll spot the traitor a mile away. My copy also had a plethora of editing errors, although I found myself forgiving them because I was so caught up in Sarah's story. A lot of times, predictability and poor proofreading can ruin a book for me - not so much this time. Sarah's Quilt is just that good.

Grade: B +

1 comment:

  1. I loved These Is My Words (4.5/5), but haven't read Sarah's Quilt yet. (I actually thought I did, but it's not on my list of read books.) Anyway, now there is a third book (probably the last) titled The Star Garden.

    Thanks for the reminder to get back to this author!


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