Warren, basing her work on the memoir of Grace McCance Snyder about her pioneer childhood in Nebraska, also tells the riveting story of life on the prairie and the determination of the families who settled there. Warren begins with the 1862 Homestead Act, which permitted people to earn 160 acres of land by building a house and cultivating the soil for five years. Despite the draughts, blizzards, grasshopper infestations, loneliness and hard, hard work, the families of the prairie never gave up their hopes. It's all rendered from the point of view of Grace (who lived to be 100 years old): ""to Mama it must have seemed poor and desolate . . . I know she must have been nearly crushed by the unexpected bigness of the prairie, the endless blue of the sky, our rough, homemade furniture, and the almost total lack of neighbors."" The voice of Grace echoes the spirit of the pioneer families who settled the Midwest: ""Most pioneer children did not know how hard their lives were. They just did what had to be done.