I’m on a roll this week with reviews. Definitely playing catch up after our vacation and birthdays. Plus, reading 100 books in one year makes for a lot of reviews to be written as well. What an adventure!
I enjoyed this sequel to one of my favorite Newbery Honor books, Hattie Big Sky. I had been told it was not quite as good as the first one. And I would agree with that. However, it was still a fun read and I am glad to have read more of Hattie’s story!
- I love Larson’s attention to historical detail in her books. Her ability to recreate a time period is impressive!
- I am excited to read Hattie’s stories with my kids when they’re a bit older. I think they teach such important qualities like the value of hard work, determination, reaching for your goals, overcoming failure and hardships, and discovering the most important things in life. I’d love to read more from Kirby Larson!
According to Goodreads, “After leaving Uncle Chester’s homestead claim, orphan Hattie Brooks throws a lasso around a new dream, even bigger than the Montana sky. She wants to be a reporter, knowing full well that a few pieces published in the Arlington News will not suffice. Real reporters must go to Grand Places, and do Grand Things, like Hattie’s hero Nellie Bly. Another girl might be stymied by this, but Hattie has faced down a hungry wolf and stood up to a mob of angry men. Nothing can squash her desire to write for a big city newspaper. A letter and love token from Uncle Chester’s old flame in San Francisco fuels that desire and Hattie jumps at the opportunity to get there by working as a seamstress for a traveling acting troupe. This could be her chance to solve the mystery of her “scoundrel” uncle and, in the process, help her learn more about herself.
But Hattie must first tell Charlie that she will not join him in Seattle. Even though her heart approves of Charlie’s plan for their marriage, her mind fears that saying yes to him would be saying no to herself. Hattie holds her own in the big city, literally pitching her way to a byline, and a career that could be even bigger than Nellie Bly’s. But can making headlines compensate for the pain of betrayal and lost love? Hattie must dig deep to find her own true place in the world. Kirby Larson once again creates a lovingly written novel about the remarkable and resilient young orphan, Hattie Inez Brooks.”
Like in the first book, I was fascinated by the history in this novel! This time period between the great wars is not one I know much about. I really enjoyed the details about things like women in the workplace, the league of nations (loved the elevator ride with the president!), airplanes (one of my favorite scenes is Hattie riding in a plane for the first time), and the changing face of the nation. I am impressed that Larson has done so much research and found such specific details to make her story feel more connected to the time like the postcards and the particular hotels and buildings mentioned. The fiction and the history blend seamlessly together.
Hattie is certainly a determined character. I was amazed at how hard she works to get a job at the paper and then as an actual reporter. So neat! The details of the newsroom and the morgue were really interesting as well. I was frustrated with her at a couple of points in the story. Why was she so focused on herself? Why was being a big city reporter so important to her? Why won’t she accept Charlie when he obviously makes her so happy?! Luckily she learned more as the story went on and the ending was quite satisfying. Although I would have liked a wedding epilogue as well. My favorite character was probably Charlie. I loved getting to meet him face to face and how kind, hard working, and determined he is. They are a great match.
While I enjoyed this book, sometimes it felt like an entirely different story with a separate protagonist from Hattie Big Sky. While Hattie was in the wide open homestead of Montana in the first book, this one is set in the city. Larson does a nice job setting the scene in both places but they don’t always feel like two parts of the same story. It threw me off especially at first to have such different settings. But Hattie does feel like she can belong in both places. So it didn’t bother me too much. I was disappointed to never actually see or hear from Perilee (we get some secondhand insights into her life) and would have liked more details of Hattie and Charlie’s happily ever after.
Some of the action is so crazy even knowing that Larson does her research! There were some surprising twists and turns in this novel. SPOILERS AHEAD! I have to admit I was skeptical of Ruby Danvers from the first time Hattie gives her money. Pretty crazy how crooked her character turned out to be! Also I was disappointed in Ned and how his character progressed. I thought he was a real friend to Hattie but then he steals all her stories? And gets away with it? That’s just wrong. But I guess the world isn’t fair. Luckily, Hattie is able to see beyond her writing and build a life beyond the newsroom. I found the ending to be quite satisfying and was glad she found what makes her truly happy.
Overall, an enjoyable read about an intriguing time in American history. I liked this one and if you have read Hattie’s first story, I think you’d like it too!
What are some of your favorite novels set around WWI?
Do you find sequels as enjoyable as first novels? Why or why not?