Hope, aged 14, became an orphan at age six when her mother died in a car crash. The backpack they had bought just before the accident became Hope’s hope chest, housing artifacts from her past. Her most prized possession was her sketchbook. Hope’s current foster Mom, Sarah, took Hope with her to spend the summer at her childhood home on the prairie in Nebraska with her mother, Anna. Against her wishes, Hope moved, vowing not to be pressured into adoption.
In Nebraska Anna, Hope’s fun-loving foster grandmother, introduced her to their farm’s history beginning in 1869 when it was first homesteaded. Through a series of diaries Hope learns how three young women, about her age, dealt with the difficulties that faced them across the centuries. The obstacles in growing crops in first story reminded me of the last book I reviewed, The Worst Hard Times. It seems that life on the prairie is difficult in any era.
Dianne E. Gray weaves 4 stories seamlessly into one novel. Holding Up the Earth hints at the issues facing foster children, but more than that, it is historical fiction. As such it is very appropriate particularly for 8th and 11th grade students who study American History. Its readability level and subject matter would appeal primarily to girls aged 10-14. Nonetheless, although I’m somewhat older than 14, I enjoyed it as well.
You can learn more about author Dianne E. Gray on her website Prairie Voices.