Friday, December 9, 2011

The Personal History of Rachel Dupree by Ann Weisgarber

The Personal History of Rachel Dupree by Ann Weisgarber

Let me introduce you to Rachel Dupree.  Rachel is living in Chicago, working as a cook in a boarding house.  She is a strong minded African American woman who knows what she wants.  She refuses to marry a slaughter house man with no future and instead sets her sights on Issac, the son of her employer.  Issac is a buffalo soldier who has big dreams ranching in South Dakota.  Rachel and Issac make a bargain.  He agrees to marry her and live together for one year, and she agrees to give up her 160 acres share from The Homestead Act.

The story is set in the harsh landscape of South Dakota badlands during a severe summer drought during the year of 1917.  Rachel is pregnant with her seventh child.  Many African Americans became homesteaders but it is a story often not told and rarely heard of.  Rachel and her family faced hardships like any other homesteaders of the time but they also suffered greatly from the racism of the time.  They lived in a sod house, had little or no neighbors and struggled day to day with the challenges of owning large tracks of land.  If you lived on your land for 5 years, you paid for it with your hardships.

The History of Rachel Dupree is a predictable, easy read.  The parts I was most drawn to were the parts where Rachel is starting to piece together the realities of her life and is discovering that she unhappy with what she sees.  Throughout the book she wrestles with a life-changing decision and I found myself rooting for her to stand up for herself. The frontier reeks havoc on the heartiest of souls and Rachel has many regrets.  The ending of the book is bittersweet and will have you on your toes cheering for this woman and her bravery.  Then you will find yourself hoping there is going to be a

So Ms. Weisgarber, will there be a sequel?

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