When Tessa Darrow discovers her father burning his Confederate uniform, she has no idea how his secret will devastate their family and drive them from their home in North Carolina. The family journeys along the Oregon Trail, but tragedy strikes, leaving Tessa and her father to build a new life in Soda Springs, Idaho.
Carolyn Steele writes real life. You will gasp in many places. Heartwarming and heart wrenching, each chapter has a hook, meaning, you're hooked, so don't even try to put down the book. Get comfortable.
I was hooked from the very first chapter due to Carolyn Steele's beautiful word tapestry, charm, descriptions, colloquy, and images. The book transported me to another time and place.
Carolyn Steele weaves in real life people from Soda Springs to interact with her fictional characters which makes me want to do more research about the era and the location--1860s Idaho. It also captures the turmoil of the effects war can have on those who fight and live through it.
As mentioned, the book begins with an angst-ridden bonfire which precipitates the Henry Darrow family's flight from North Carolina.
Here's an excerpt from the book:
Following the wagon master's bellow, Tessa climbed into the back of the wagon to sit beside Bethany. Bawls from the oxen and mules mingled with the shouts of anxious men and cracks from whips to start the procession of wagons and herds that would eventually lead to Oregon.
"I'm not scairt," Bethany whispered.
Tessa felt a lurch as the wagon fell into line. "No reason you should be," Tessa said, but she pulled her sister closer. Watching the town grow smaller against the pinking dawn on the horizon, she felt the embrace of anxiety tightening around her heart.
"Are you scairt?" Bethany asked, clutching Tessa's arm between her tiny hands.
"Naw," Tessa lied.
Once ensconced in the town of Soda Springs, I was introduced, along with the Darrows, to a faction of Latter-day Saints I'd never heard of--the Morrisites. True story. There was a war between the followers of Brigham Young and the followers of Joseph Morris, a wannabe prophet. After a few deaths and injuries on both sides, the Morrisites escaped to the Idaho Territory and beyond. This book is about those who settled near Soda Springs. This true story, and some of its historic characters, are beautifully woven into the fictional plot lines. The book is not a religious one, though mention is made of the LDS religion and the Morrisite dissenters. You'll have to read about it. I had no idea!
The tale takes us from North Carolina to Idaho, beginning when Tessa Darrow is nearly fourteen. We watch her grow into a lovely, young lady, and eventually a young woman, fit to be married--but to whom? She has three marriage proposals in all; one she would sooner forget. Which suitor does she choose? No spoilers here. You'll have to read through the twists and turns and, truth be told, the nail biting (mine), to find out. And while you're reading, enjoy the descriptions of the area surrounding Soda Springs, such as Grays Lake and Sulphur Springs. There's even an eventful trip in the story to Great Salt Lake City.
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