One of the strengths of this book–at least for me in terms of our reading challenge–is the acknowledged contrast between Chicago and the small town of Cypress, north of Duluth, Minnesota. Several times it’s noted that Cathryn’s infidelity would hardly be noticed in Chicago, but in Cypress she, and even those who associate with her–like […]

Wow! We Love You, Charlie Freeman by Kaitlyn Greenidge was a really interesting book! The commentary on race and racism were enlightening, and the commentary on families, sisterhood and motherhood were, at times, heart-wrenching. Overall, I’m glad I read it. However, despite a few lovely descriptions of western Massachusetts and less lovely ones of Dorchester, […]

Nebraska. A place where every child knows the rules regarding thunderstorms, tornadoes, and blizzards. Where the weatherman’s report is listened to as if it were a message from God. Where the Farmer’s Almanac is a second Bible. Sing Them Home by Stephanie Kallos was a great addition to my challenge list! I’m reading my way […]

BIRDS! Finally, after a bit of a drought, we have birds! The very first paragraphs of The Echo Maker by Richard Powers include some wonderful descriptions of the sandhill cranes that migrate through Nebraska each year, stopping along the Platte River, and feeding on the remains of the harvested field corn and soybeans. They float […]

Wow! Haven’s Wake by Ladette Randolph (2013) was phenomenal for my reading challenge. I’m reading my way across the USA, focusing on books with a strong sense of place that help me “get to know” each state–the landscape, the people, the culture, the history. Haven’s Wake was a perfect choice for Nebraska. That year the […]

Photograph © Andrew Dunn, 13 May 2005.

Raintree County by Ross Lockridge, Jr. was an excellent book for my reading challenge. Take a look at some of the passages below, and you’ll see a small portion of how Lockridge describes Raintree County in west central Indiana. This first one is a description of a book within a book–an illustrated atlas of Raintree […]

When most people think of Kansas, we tend to think, “flat.” And, after all, in Dorothy Must Die, author Danielle Paige called the Kansas town Flat Hill. I’ve already talked a bit about the Wizard of Oz movie and book (mis)perceptions of Kansas (including that Baum’s original descriptions were based on his unhappy experiences of […]

First Dawn by Judith Miller is about the post-Civil War all-black pioneer settlement of Nicodemus, Kansas. It tells the story of a group of ill-prepared settlers who travel across the prairie from Topeka to Nicodemus, expecting to find a small, but somewhat established town, with at least a few amenities, only to arrive at a […]

The Virgin of Small Plains by Nancy Pickard (2006) was a definite winner, at least in terms of learning about Kansas. While Becky Mandelbaum’s Bad Kansas left me full of bleakness, Nancy Pickard’s Kansas gave me some hope. Not that she was all rosy about the state–there were plenty of descriptions of that bleakness. He […]

As I was putting together the book map for Kansas, I came across an interesting conundrum: where in Kansas was Dorothy from? (Or, more to the point, Amy Gumm?) L. Frank Baum’s books don’t give the name of any towns near where Dorothy lived with her Uncle Henry and Aunt Em on their farm. And […]