I'm once again pleasantly surprised with the Denton North Branch librarians' pick to sit directly in the center of the display table in the young adult fiction section. Otherwise, I probably never would have come across this book. Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson was a great, interesting read with an impossibly mature sixteen-year-old at its center. Hattie Here-and-There, as she calls herself, has grown up as an orphan, being passed from family member to family member. Then, out of the blue, a long-lost Uncle Chester dies and leaves her his claim of 320 acrs in Montana. Eager for a place to call her own, Hattie takes the next train from Iowa and settles down to prove up on her Uncle's claim, but finds that friendship is the more valuable possession.
This story was based on the author's great-grandmother by the same name, as well as a few other people she grabbed out of history's folds. I love that it's set during World War I, and that it deeply affects the book and its characters, just as it did in real life. That was a great insight to read. I also love that Hattie was such a writer. She constantly writes to a relative and a school friend, Charlie (whom she undoubtedly loves, though she never really realizes it).
Entertaining, informative, and sweet. I wish some of the more intense chapters had been expanded a bit. It's definitely worth the read! I almost cried a couple of times. The characters in this novel are just so real and vibrant, and the hardships and happy times they face are things that really did happen almost a century ago. At any rate, it was a nice break from werewolves, witches, ghosts, aliens, and everything else I am normally surrounded by.
I'd give it an 8 out of 10.