This is a poignant tale filled with pathos, love, sorrow, anger, rebellion, strength and bewilderment within a family struggling for survival in the 1920's in northeastern rural America. The author is the daughter of Louise, the protagonist, and fictionalized this story utilizing events as she remembers them.
These two little girls, Louise, age 5, and her sister, Ruthie, age 2 are dumped by their Mama on their Gram and Grampa on a small farm. In the beginning the children do not understand why and Ruthie has little memory of her Mama. Gram and Grampa are originally from Germany, hard working and Grampa built their small house and meager furnishing by hand from trees on the farm. The only water they have in the house is from a hand pump, no electricity and a wood range. They own a cow and chickens. They live very well this way because they know how, but it is difficult for the little girls to adjust because they had lived in the city with their Mama.
Louise from the very first is aware there is some type of tension between Gram and Mama. Gram is extremely strict. Ruthie is a rebel and although Louise doesn't understand why, she feels Gram loves Ruthie and not her when Louise is Gram's helper and Ruthie just messes everything up. As the girls grow up, Louise feels responsible for and protective of Ruthie.
Each year Louise writes her Mama a short note setting forth bare facts regarding Ruthie and begging her mother to come see them. There are flashes of the mother receiving those letters and weeping that she can do nothing about taking care of her children, but neither does she go to the farm for several years.
The story revolves around Louise and Ruthie trying to adjust to Gram, to the severity of their new life, and their almost devastated emotions by their mother's abandonment, lack of contact and broken promises. As one can expect, it causes emotional scars on both children and affects their lives. The reader follows this family's joys and Gram's strength and foundation for the family unit until Louise is nineteen. The several family secrets and mysteries, which keep floating to the surface throughout their lives, finally are solved by the end of this tale.
This is a simple story, but a moving one, which may be more profound for those who have lived through those times, but love and parenting and disappointment are facets of life, no matter the age. I truly enjoyed this story, felt it, and recommend it, especially to those readers who now may be struggling in their own lives.