These is my words: The diary of Sarah Agnes Prine 1881-1901

These is My Words
Published: 1999-02-17
In a novel based on the life of the author's ancestor, Sarah Prine, a child of the westward expansion, records her dreams, marriage, adventures, joys, and sorrows in her diary.

This is an amazing “based on true events” narrative that had me thinking of my childhood playing “Oregon Trail” and/or reading “The Little House on the Prairie.”  If you’re like me and adored the “Dear America” series, this book is for you.  However, before gifting it to a young girl without reading first, please be advised that it includes some events that, while unfortunately realistic and appropriate to the book’s time period, might be confusing/upsetting to a young reader (or older reader, for that matter).

Sarah Prine, the narrator, embodies everything that it took to survive a harsh journey across America’s frontier in hopes of settling in a forever home in the vastly unclaimed western land.  She quickly discovers that her family’s journey is going to be very, very hard.  Even though the land is unclaimed and not recognized by the American government, it is largely inhabited by Native Americans who present a constant threat to all of the characters throughout the book.  Sarah tells her harrowing story of traveling, settling, falling in love, falling out of love, gains, losses, and the importance of keeping a fighter’s spirit through life’s best (and worst) of times during this unique point in America’s history.

  • Trigger warnings- violence, unexpected death, alluding to rape
  • Why I read it- recommendation from a friend

I think this would be a good time to mention that this is a story pieced together via memoirs of the author’s ancestors.  While some parts were troubling, heartbreaking, and unsettling, its raw authenticity was a breath of fresh air.  The beginning diary entries are slightly difficult to read because the author recognizes that, at this time, a girl of her age and social class would not have been educated.  Therefore, the beginning language is not eloquent and flowing.  The dialect changes, though, over the course of the book so much that your eyes can easily speed read across every page.  It evoked so many strong emotions, and I truly enjoyed getting to know each of the characters and the role they had in Sarah’s life.

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