Friday, December 28, 2012

Lyddie, by Katherine Paterson

In the 1840s in Vermont, Lyddie Worthen and her brother struggle to survive on their own.  Their father has gone West years ago and mother has fallen under the sway of an End Times preacher and given up on living.  When the family's debts reach the point that they can no longer keep the farm, the two children are sent to work:  Lyddie's brother to the mill and Lyddie herself to be a housekeeper.  Lyddie works hard but can't earn enough money to make any headway on repaying the debts.  So, when she learns of better opportunities in Lowell MA, working in the wool mills, she decides to strike out to seek her fortune.  It's back-breaking work, but Lyddie welcomes the opportunity to change her life.

Less outstanding for the writing than the extraordinary story it tells, Lyddie is a well-researched historical novel that will give you pause to reflect on how hard life can really be and how we rise to the challenges that we must face. Its lessons about perseverance have a timeless classic quality to them that often lands the book on summer reading lists.  Lyddie's life is harsh, but she accepts it with a level of grace and determination that make her a very inspiring heroine.

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