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THE YEAR WE WERE FAMOUS by Carole Estby Dagg

THE YEAR WE WERE FAMOUS

By Carole Estby Dagg

Age Range: 12 & up

Pub Date: April 4th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-618-99983-5
Publisher: Clarion

In danger of losing their farm and inspired by Nellie Bly’s round-the-world feat, 18-year-old Clara Estby and her Norwegian immigrant mother, Helga, decide to walk from Mica Creek, near Spokane, Wash., to New York City, a projected May-to-December journey. A publisher has promised them $10,000 if they reach their destination on time. With just the clothes on their backs, a pistol and little else, the women must rely on the kindness of strangers and their own tenacity. When not lost in Idaho’s lava fields, showing Indians in Utah how to use a curling iron, meeting just-elected President William McKinley or uncovering family secrets, they are avoiding rattle snakes, mountain blizzards and assailants. Quiet yet snappy Clara uses the time to decide whether she should marry Erick (who’s already building their marriage bed) or try to make it on her own as a writer. Meanwhile, theatrical Helga uses each stop to promote her suffragist beliefs. Incredibly, the nearly 4,000-mile journey depicted in this debut is based on an actual trek taken by the author’s great-aunt and great-grandmother to save their farm. Clara’s first-person narration starts off strong with lively descriptions (“I was as jumpy as a colt smelling cougar scat”) but rushes toward the end, as if trying to hurry up along with the women. Readers will enjoy the feminist adventures but crave more details. (author’s note) (Historical fiction. 12 & up)