Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Middle of Nowhere by Paula Duncan McDonald ~ review

  • Paperback: 346 pages
  • Publisher:, Inc. (July 15, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 162141695X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1621416951

This book is also available as an e-book.

July 15, 2012

Unflinching story of a pioneer family in a desolate part of Texas west of the Pecos, particularly the story of Skitchy, bold passionate daughter of the family's second generation. Hers is a story of life and love, identity and survival, during the desperate years when the Great Depression, severe drought and relentless dust storms wracked the land. At the same time it is the inspiring larger story of the shared experience of the human spirit.

My take on this book:
"The Middle of Nowhere" begins back in the early twenties. We meet Lucy Malinda Chapman, also known as Skitchy, the fifteen year old daughter of a rancher family in West Texas. When Skitchy falls in love with Pinkney Campbell, a cotton farmer,who is several years older than she is, her parents fear it may be a mistake, but young love wins out, and the two marry. The hardscrabble existence is far from easy, so when the owners of the farm sell out, Pink and Skitchy accept a job with Skitchy's sister Belle and her husband Jackson renovating a hotel.Things go very well for Jackson and Belle, and Skitchy and Pink make a home with them. When the bottom falls out of the stock market, and the dust bowl hits, times become rough for everyone. While the tough times bring many together, it pulls some apart. 

I found myself drawn so completely into the lives of the characters in the story, especially as we see them struggle and deal with life's advertises  while continuing to help their friends. I felt like I became one of Skitchy's confidants as we learn of unhappiness with her marriage, and the course that her life ultimately took. It was quite interesting to see her character grow from falling in love for the first time, to actually facing the realities of married life and wanting to feel like she mattered . I thought it was wonderful that the author referred to Amelia Earhart  even saying that Skitchy looked up to her and found inspiration in her.I also enjoyed the relationship that we see between Skitchy and her sister Belle. There are plenty of secondary characters whose stories just jump from the pages,from the two sisters who come to live at the hotel to Reba and her son Hutch, each character adds another layer to richly developed story. 

While "The Middle of Nowhere"  is the story of Skitchy and her family it really encompasses so much more. The author provides a very realistic, and accurate look at one of the hardest times in American History. She brings to life not only her characters, but the time-period and struggles that many faced. In addition to the stock market crash and the dust bowl the author also touches on race relations, which allows the reader to see how cruel people could be toward African-Americans. Overall I found a richly developed story with characters that certainly endeared themselves to me, but what impressed me most was the way Ms. McDonald was able to bring history to life within the pages of this story, making me feel like I was getting a very realistic history lesson, about one of the most significant times in our countries history! 

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