I loved meeting you here online through your generous blog. I've marveled at the way you fcous the spotlight on other writers when you could be calling attention to your own books. In a short time, you have introduced me to a smorgasbord of talented history writers and their stories.
I love the giveaways you sponsor. Oh, yes, the giveaways! That brings me to the day I met you in person in lovely, historical, Honesdale, PA.
How cool to discover that I had, indeed, just won one of your contests! I am now the oh-so-very-pleased-owner of EDDIE'S WAR. Everything I see and read about this story makes me want to read it. I haven't yet, because a certain amount of restraint is in order just to get through each busy day. But it's right on top of my TBR pile.
I did just read your HILL HAWK HATTIE though.
And here's what I have to say about that.
The first thing I noticed about Hattie was her voice. It's powerful. Succinct. Determined. Poignant. I believe the author's # 1 task is to make the reader care about the character on the very first page. Clara, you did that in - let me see - how about the first sentence? Impressive.
And by the end of that first page I understood why Hattie would say about her Pa, "Guess he must hate my guts. Guess I'm not too fond of his. The way I see it, we're stuck."
I'm guessing a whole lot of readers will relate to that!
But if a whole lot of readers are like me, they're going to soon find themselves in unfamiliar territory also - on a raft going down the Delaware River. What a ride! I'm a wimp about white water so I was more than happy to let Hattie Basket (I do love her name!) steer me through. I'm pretty sure I leaned to the right when Pa called out "pull Pennsylvania" and to the left if he hollered "New Jersey". And when Jasper yelled, "Don't fall!" I hung on. More than once, I hit the deck and clung to it for life itself.
I encountered some familiar places but they were only names I knew from maps or road signs - strictly landlubber access. I kept wondering how you knew the river so well. I felt as if you took notes from a raft, looking up at the Erie Railroad Bridge while floating beneath it and that you knew all the rifts and narrows and aqueducts along the way.
You carry your readers through other treacherous waters - the emotional ups and downs of a girl who feels orphaned by her mother's death and her father's rejection. Who faces the jeers of those who consider themselves better than her. Who wants desperately to be the girl she is but who must pretend to be a boy to suit her father's whims. At least that is how it seems. In the end of course, Hattie Basket understands much more than she does on that first lonely page.
In the end, the reader realizes there is more to Hattie's story. And I for one, am eager to read HATTIE ON HER WAY.
Thank-you, Clara for this gripping story about loss and identity and logging and survival during the mid 1800s. I learned a lot and enjoyed the ride!
Your new friend,
Joyce Moyer Hostetter