Hi everyone! Today I’m back as part of the Little House Read Along hosted by Bex @ An Armchair by the Sea and Lynn @ Smoke and Mirrors. Each month, we will read and review one of the Little House books. More info about the read along can be found through the links above. Check it out with the read along hashtag (#LittleHouseRAL) and join us anytime!
May’s book is By the Shores of Silver Lake.
A few initial thoughts:
- I honestly couldn’t really remember what happened in the series past Plum Creek so this book felt like new to me.
- I love that we get a first glimpse of Almanzo and Laura in the same place. Even if it was just for a moment.
- This is another Newbury Honor Runner-Up in 1940 and is also a quick read (read it in about two days and did not read constantly).
By the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder continues the story of the Ingalls family as they again move in search of better prosperity. This time, they head to Dakota Territory where Pa works for the railroad. Several things are different in this journey–Mary is blind after a tough bout of scarlet fever, baby Grace has joined the family, and the girls take the train to meet up with Pa. Over the next months, they live in several places of varying nicety while waiting for Pa to find and claim their homestead. Can they survive the harsh Dakota winter? Can Pa claim their homestead first? And how will all this change affect the girls and their futures?
I was surprised to find Laura more silly and even annoying at times than in books past. Her narrations were more self centered. She seemed only concerned with being outside and running around like an Indian with her bonnet down her back all the time. Yes, she had redeeming moments when she decided to become a school teacher for Ma or save money to help send Mary to a blind college back east. But mostly she just ran wild and seemed obsessed with being out west. She drove me crazy at times! But then after I finished the book, I realized that Laura is now 13, a teenager. Then I understood better why I disliked her attitude in this book.
My heart breaks for the family and their many trials in this book. I think I read it so fast because I was anxious for them to be settled and happy. But we don’t really get to see that. They can’t seem to catch a break. From poor and stalwart Mary learning to live with blindness to living out on a worker’s camp to strangers eating their food stores, the Ingalls seem to constantly be overcoming some difficulty. As with other books, they continually overcome this challenges with grace and class. Ma is an incredible homemaker, companion, and worker; I admire her greatly. But I also felt so sorry for her having to continually give up established homes to follow Pa on his next big adventure. I would not have enjoyed all that moving.
What surprised me in the plot of this novel was how quickly technology has advanced. Travel becomes so much easier with the railroad. And towns pop up quicker than expected. The family even gets to live in a well stocked surveyor’s home for the winter that has more varied food and supplies than they are used to. Overall, I was amazed at the speed of technological advancement. And I thought a lot about how impressive it would be to live during this time and to see so much change in the world.
Overall, this was not my favorite Little House book. But I appreciated hearing about how the family was growing up and the world was changing.
Any thoughts on By the Shores of Silver Lake?