I received These Is My Words by Nancy E. Turner as a prize in a giveaway last summer. I read it over Christmas Break and liked it a lot.
This is the “journal” of Sarah Agnes Prine, the protagonist. As an older teen, her family decided to move from one southwestern territory to another. However, many bad events happened upon their wagon train and they turned around. They settled near Tucson, and she hoped to never see the rude, arrogant Captain Elliot again. She married a childhood friend, but after she gave birth, he died revealing the secret that he never loved her. After a year or so, Captain Elliot happened to be injured near her home and she nursed him back to health. He courted her and they eventually married. The rest of the story goes through their adventures of husband and wife, with Sarah dealing with motherhood and other mishaps that happen to her siblings’ families, all the while worrying about Captain Elliot as he goes off fighting outlaws and Indians. Finally, he decides to quit and become the Fire Chief. The story ends with their youngest dying of Scarlet Fever, Captain Elliot dying from a fighting a fire, and Sarah’s oldest daughter running away and eloping…but on a positive, hopeful note.
I will be pretty honest…the first about 100 pages were pretty boring, and honestly, poor writing. Sarah was uneducated, trying to teach herself proper spelling and grammar. And, every stereotypical bad thing that could happen to a wagon train or trying to settle in the South West happened to her and her family. A few parts were a little contrived. But, as Sarah grew older and more educated, it became better. Still, a lot of stereotypical events of that time period of the Golden Age of the West appeared in the book. But, she got a lot of character growth as she grew older as a mom and wife. Captain Elliot also got a lot of character growth as well.
As I read the postscripts, it was revealed that this character and some of her stories were based on an ancestor of the author. She had begun the novel as a short story influenced by her great-grandmother and did more family history and expanded it to become a novel. She makes sure to mention that it is fiction and she made up a few characters and events because she didn’t have all the details and didn’t want to accidentally insult family members or memories of family members. So, she says it is fiction, not historical fiction or biography.
Overall, I’d give it 3.5 out of 5 stars!