Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Year We Sailed the Sun by Theresa Nelson

The Year We Sailed the Sun by Theresa Nelson is not what it looks like.

A quick glance at the cover and title of this book might have one expecting a Little House on the Prairie-type story of survival on the plains, but this is actually the tale of a spirited young girl's year in a St. Louis orphanage. Over the course of that year, Julia bites a nun, accidentally steals a pair of binoculars when she sneaks into a baseball game, plots to break her brother out of juvie, and has a near-fatal run-in with some gangsters -- and those are only a few of her adventures. Despite her daring escapades, Julia really dreams of a simple life on a farm, with some chickens and maybe a cow, and her family all together, and plenty of room to breathe . . . but is there any way she can attain that dream?

Really, my only problem with this book is how little the title and cover fit the story. The story itself is well-written and interesting, with funny parts and suspenseful parts, covering a bit of history not often explored. It's loosely based on the author's husband's family history, adding a ring of authenticity, and both major and minor characters are multifaceted and well-developed. If you like historical fiction featuring scrappy protagonists in urban settings in the early 20th century, give this book a try -- just don't look at the cover and expect Oregon Trail!

(Reviewed from an advance copy, courtesy of the publisher.)

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