Sunday, June 21, 2009

Finding Home

Today's book was The Journey Home, by Isabelle Holland, a standard children's historical book about two sisters sent west on the orphan train for adoption. I devoured this kind of book by the bushel as a child, and as an adult I entirely approve of this addiction. It's a painless way to absorb history, with the small risk of learning everything all wrong if the author's research or biases obscure the truth too much.

The interesting bit for me this time was the clash between the girls' Roman Catholic upbringing (shown by their devotion to the Virgin Mary ) and the Protestant community that they ended up in. It's fairly clear that the younger child will join her new family's church, but the older girl will not. I also liked the marital dynamics between the stern dad and the more sophisticated mother, with the bitter mother-in-law added for complication. Anti-Irish prejudice also seasoned the tale. The birth family was a traditional stock Irish group -- dead, drunk father and saintly dying mother. Maggie, the older daughter, considers herself responsible for her younger sister Annie, and gives up this status reluctantly and with some jealousy. A good balance between period setting and characterization, with little sense of modern sensibilities inserted into the sympathetic characters.

No comments: