But then after I received the book, it seemed like everyone was reviewing it, so I held off for a while. And then I kind of forgot for a while. And then I remembered again, but I couldn’t find my copy. And then I found my copy but I had Something Important To Say and hadn’t figured out how to say it. And then it came to the end of the year and I still hadn’t written about it, so here goes.
In Hattie Big Sky, Hattie is an orphan who been moved around within her extended family, but never felt wanted. So, when she finds she has inherited land in Montana, the sixteen-year-old girl is ready to face any adversity to make a place of her own. She heads west to prove up the homestead claim, taking some clothes and her cat. It won’t be easy to keep the claim on the land. The house is built, even if it looks more like a shack, but she still needs to fence in the land and produce a crop within a year. In the big land she’s all alone, but finds herself making a new family with the other homesteaders. She faces hard weather and suffers tradgedy. Set during the time of World War I, the book also captures the anti-German sentiment that Hattie sees through connection with her neighbors and new best friends. Kirby Larson has written a wonderful book with a strong female character.
But here is my Something Important To Say, that I wish to discuss with my fellow book lovers and blogfriends. I didn’t see the religious aspect of this book mentioned in any of the reviews, yet the book had numerous mentions of God. Here are two selections from early in the book:
Thinking of the Almighty’s earlier guidance, I bowed my head. “Thank you, Lord, for Uncle Chester. May he rest peacefully in your care. Thank you for Perilee, who provided this good supper, and for keeping me safe thus far. Mr. Whiskers thanks you for the mouse. Amen.”Both of these quotes have a nice sense of humor about them and fit with the character. Now, if I had read these passages in an adult book, I would have thought is was Christian fiction. But not only is this not noted as a Christian fiction book, I don’t see that it is noted or discussed as a religious book at all.
To keep myself company, I’d taken to conducting chore-time conversations with God. My self-imposed rule was that each conversation must start on a thankful note. Sometimes that kept the discussion from really getting going.
Let me make it perfectly clear that I like Hattie Big Sky. I think that the mentions of God are in keeping with the story and the time period. I also think that the prayers offer a literary device, giving Hattie a chance to talk to someone since she’s all alone. I’m not saying that the mentions of God are overdone or wrong or inappropriate. I’m just curious about how something that I thought was so noticeable in the book even integral to the book was never discussed. And when I’ve thought about it, I would say that there is a lot of churchgoing and talk about God in the Little House books, and in Little Women. Is this something that we accept more in children’s literature? Is it a product of the time periods of the books? Is it something else entirely? I know that a lot of people read and liked this book, and I’d be interested to hear what people think. Spoilers will be allowed in the comments, so don’t read them if you don’t want to know anything more about the book.
As for me, I loved the Little House books growing up and I love Little Women now and I am in complete agreement with all the rave reviews that Hattie Big Sky has received. I wouldn’t really want to see a lot of religious focus for fear of pigeonholing this book. However, if you want a good book for your Christian home-school group, it would be hard to find a better written, more interesting book that also carries a spiritual theme.