Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm

This book suffers from the misconception that it promotes a “happy go lucky, whistling in the dark, rosy tinted glasses” view of life. That is not true. Set in Maine, probably just before the turn of the twentieth century, it chronicles a young woman’s coming of age and ultimate triumph in spite of many trials. Rebecca’s mother Aurelia had married what most people in Riverboro considered a ne’er-do-well. The town’s disdain forced him to move his wife to Temperance where he bought a farm and died, but not until he had left Aurelia with seven children. As the book opens, Rebecca is traveling from Temperance to Riverboro to stay with her mother’s two maiden sisters, Miranda, who is somewhat harsh, and Jane, who is more understanding. Rebecca gets into her share of trouble, not intentionally but often as a result of her “different” way of looking at things, yet she tries hard to do her best. The aunts send her to school, and she makes many friends. However, news from back home is not good. One brother dies. The crops fail. The family cannot pay the mortgage. Her mother is seriously injured while putting up hay in the barn. So, Rebecca is torn between making plans for her own future, taking care of her failing Aunt Miranda, and worrying about her mother and siblings. She has to make some hard choices. Can everything turn out all right? There is some sadness, especially at the end, but there is hope because Rebecca always seeks to do what is right. The quaint writing style and vocabulary of a former time may make the reading a little difficult for some children today, and Mrs. Wiggin’s sense of humor may be lost on some people, but there is nothing objectionable in the book, and it is a charming insight into the way of life from a previous age.

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