Sunday, January 8, 2012

Book Review -- So Big

So Big
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Source:  Library Copy
What's in a Name Challenge 4 (Size)

“Cabbages are beautiful!”

Once these words are uttered, you are intimately aware of Selina Peake DeJong’s view of life and the world around her.

Raised by a father who taught her that life was an adventure – Selina takes a job as a country teacher in High Prairie, a farming community that serves the bustling metropolis of Chicago at the turn of the century. She meets Dutch settlers who work the rich earth south of Chicago to feed the expanding population. The adventure she envisioned for herself did not manifest itself, as she marries a local widowed farmer, Pervus DeJong, gives birth to her son, Dirk (nicknamed “So Big”) and lives a demanding life trying to make their small farm profitable.

Author Edna Ferber then masterfully weaves an amazing story of a working mother, who does everything within her ability to make the life of her son better than her own.

This was an AMAZING book and so beautifully written. For a piece that won the Pulitzer Prize in 1924, I was surprised at how “modern” it felt: struggling families, the plight of the single mother, the importance of a good education, following your dreams, being true to yourself, and finding the beauty in everyday life.

It was also a visually precise book – I quite literally mapped the entire Chicago area of that time period in my head, based on her descriptions and narrative.

And the ending – one of those that make you want to scream, “no – you can’t end it there!” But knowing it was the PERFECT way to end it. It was just right.