Sunday, July 20, 2014

What I Listened to in June

What I Listened To In June . . .

One Came HomeOne Came Home by Amy Timberlake, read by Tara Sands -- Young Adult Historical Fiction

Thirteen-year-old Georgie Burkhart can shoot as straight as can be without missing, do anything else her grandfather taught her like tracking and hiding, and tend the family store account books. She wants nothing more than to run with family store with her older sister Agatha by her side. In 1871 Wisconsin, that's about all a woman can expect to do with her life if she doesn't marry, and Georgie is NEVER getting married. Agatha, however, has other ideas. She is passionate about natural and would love to go to college and study natural science. She's fascinated by the hoards of passenger pigeons who flock to Placid, Wisconsin to roost. So, when Agatha disappears with some pigeon hunters, everyone assumes she's run off to university. Then the sheriff returns home with bits of a body with auburn hair wearing a blue/green dress - a ball gown Agatha's Mama made. Everyone assumes Agatha is dead, except for Georgie. The one thing she can not do is accept her sister's fate. So she sets off on a journey to find her sister accompanied by the onerous Billy McCabe, Agatha's former beau. Georgie experiences many adventures along the way and lives an entire lifetime in only a few days. will the truth remain buried or will Georgie find out what happened to Agatha?

This is a gripping mystery novel that I had a hard time putting down. At first I kept falling asleep in the car while listening, but I was interested enough in the story to rewind and start again a few times. Once I got into the story, I had to know what happened to Agatha! I thought I knew but the clues kept pointing in so many other directions, I wasn't sure. The last third of the book, after the journey, drags on too long. It's all telling and not much action. It seems kind of tacked on. It takes too long to wrap up the loose ends. There is a lot of humor in the story to balance out the sadness. The violence is a little bit graphic but nothing that really bothered me too much.

The setting is interesting but Wisconsin wasn't exactly the wild west in 1871. I could picture Georgie and her journey easily from the descriptions. I thought there was a bit too much history tossed in randomly. The pigeons are fine but the author's note contains too much about the pigeons. The history tossed in at the end doesn't fit with the story. I know what the author was trying to do but it seemed forced and made the message heavy handed. I also found lengthy passages with metaphysical and philosophical pondering too long and too heavy for the novel. Otherwise, the plot was great.

Tara Sands does an excellent job reading this book. She uses a country twang sort of voice of Georgie, not quite Annie Get Your Gun but close. She sounds like a young teenager. She pitches her voice lower for Billy and uses different voices for the adults Georgie encounters. She's not as diverse as Jim dale but I really enjoyed the voices.

The characters are very memorable, especially the hoydenish Georgie. I can't help but love Georgie. She's so earnest and innocent in the beginning. I didn't understand why she didn't do what she did at the end in the first place but she needed the journey to grow as a character. I really liked her character development. She changes a lot as a result of all she's been through. I liked her best when she was acting stubborn and hoydenish. She was very mean to Billy but I can understand her feelings. She's still a child and thinks like a child at times. I don't know how I feel about Billy. He's a difficult character. In some ways, he's as childish as Georgie and not as smart, but in other ways, he's a responsible adult. Agatha is selfish. I can relate to her dreams and desires and the ambition to go after what she wants, but she didn't behave very well by running off without word to her family. They would have worried even without the body.

I really enjoyed this book that I downloaded from the library without even reading reviews. I definitely recommend this book for people 12+. I think young boys would like this as much as girls. Georgie is a tomboy and there's plenty of action to keep boys interested. Though there's a bit of secondary romance but Georgie isn't interested in boys yet. She does admire Billy's figure as he strips down to his union suit but it's very innocent.

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