*I received a free copy of this book. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Recipient of the B.R.A.G. Medallion
Blurb: Each had their own reason to leave everything they knew. The land was free—the true price—was often high, where opportunities and tragedies were in equal abundance. Those who were strong, didn’t waste their tears, but used them wisely to help wash away their grief.
Joined together through friendship and family relations, Rebecca, Nathan, Hannah, Carl, and Sarah tell one story—each in their own voice. Never Waste Tears travels with them on their trek to homestead on the lonely Kansas prairie, where they pave the way for generations to come. They individually share their own dreams, challenges, heartaches, and guilt.
From the start Never Waste Tears reminded me of the Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, not just because of the homesteading aspect of the plot, but also the honest, hardworking children running stores and farms speaking directly to the reader through their own narrative segments.
I loved how we are initially introduced to Rebecca and Nathan only, in alternating slots, then Carl and Hannah, and eventually Sarah, are added as the story progresses. This gives you a real chance to get to know the characters individually rather than having them all introduced at once.
I found this especially helpful with Rebecca, as she was the character I struggled most to empathise with; coming across as somewhat spoilt and childish at times, and unable to see other’s views or understand their feelings. It is worth noting that Rebecca’s point of view is mainly represented through excerpts from her diary, rather than the direct thought/oral recount style from Nathan and the other characters, which perhaps sets up more of a narrative distance from her, isolating her as effectively as the landscape does.
The further we follow the story and characters, the more it became about adult relationships and hardships, and began to read more like Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca than Laura’s childhood adventures on the prairie. I liked that the secrets and mysteries introduced were not wrapped up neatly and presented to the reader, but we were merely shown events from the character’s limited views and left to make up our own minds about the truth of events.
I know what I believe, or would like to. But I don’t give spoilers, so you will just have to make your own minds up! This is an intimate historical fiction, with lots of depth of feeling. Not an easy emotional read, but hard to put down!
April 12, 1862 – Church bells were ringing early this morning when I awakened. At first I thought it was Sunday morning and I would be late for church. But Mother said it was to mark the anniversary of the war and a tribute to all who had lost someone the last year. It will make Martha sad again. Even the songs Mother wanted me to practice today seemed sad and melancholy. She said I play the piano as well as she does. I have been practicing on a song of my very own when she is not at home. I will surprise her one of these days. It’s a happy song.
– Gloria Zachgo, Never Waste Tears
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