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    Stepping back into Dakota Territories, 1865

    I loved stepping back in time to 1865 and seeing the world through the eyes of Marie as she journeys from Chicago to the Dakota Territories. Anything set in the Dakotas catches my interest, and the combination of the Civil War era and the frontier life is just such a fascinating milieu in US history. Marie is part of a Polish immigrant family whose trade is tinsmithing. Having several brothers, Marie didn’t learn much tinsmithing herself until circumstances called her to step up and carry on the family business. How does she negotiate being a young woman out west, whose brothers are caught up in war and frontier military posts? Suddenly, Marie’s brothers aren’t there to protect her (or tell her what to do), and this story turns into one young woman’s profound transformation. I loved the divergence from the stereotypical “stoic but long-suffering domestic beast of burden” frontier woman, as Marie draws on inner strength to carry herself and her father through--both financially and domestically--as a young single woman in an utterly foreign world. Finally, there is time for budding romance as she catches the eye of local men--eligible women are in short-supply in this time and place, but who (if anyone) is going to let Marie be herself and continue her trade? The author’s attention to historical detail and love of history really comes through in the writing, and knowing the author is a smith herself makes this read feel real and authentic. I thought this was an empowering read and an important imagining of a slice of American history--and important re-imagining of the roles and lives of frontier women.
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