I dont usually compare books by the same author if they dont share the same storyline, but having read “where lilacs still bloom” just before reading “the daughters walk” I kind of have to compare them a little bit. I was amazed at the story in “A daughters walk”, but found it to be sad and a little unsetteling, where the story in ‘lilacs’ was heartbreaking but full of hope ‘daughters walk’ has faith and love, but not where you expect to find it.
This book is based on a true story and founded on fact, rooted in history, and almost forgotten. A story that should not have been but for the unplesantness of life and family crashing down around one young woman who lived an extrordinary life despite what was thrown at her.
Clara is chosen by her mother, as the eldest child in the family, to join her in a walk across the entire country in 1896, in a gamble to earn enough money to save their family farm while showing that women are strong and showing the new fashion, a dress that didnt have a corset and had a higher hemline was going to be the dress of the future.
They set out to walk from their home in Washington state and are to end up in New York walking more than 7,000 miles in 7 months by themselves. Mother Helga Etsby and daughter Clara manage to walk across the country, but their lives are forever changed when the things that they learn on the trip give Clara a different view of their family.
When tragedy strikes, the family dosn’t hold together as it should, instead Clara and Helga are forbidden to talk of their months of walking, and Clara is cast out for not obeying this. She turns to some unlikely allies, and sets out on a different path.
Her path leads her away from her family and into a family of her own making, although unusual, it holds and sticks with her through good times and bad, even through the more than 20 years before Clara starts to reconcile with the family she was born to. This story shows how blood isn’t always thicker, and sometimes you have to choose your family to do what is best for you to live and God won’t abandon you even if you walk away from Him.
There is a lot of heartbreak for Clara and both of her families. She sees things differently, in the beginning of the book she says to her mother of their family “I think things are either right or wrong, and the rest of you think, well, things are either good or bad.” I loved this line. During a time of grief Clara says ” My words fell like rocks into deep water.”
Talking about religion and faith with her new family Clara hears a debate asking “whether one ought to worship Jesus as a signpost or by following His direction. “If you see the sign saying ‘seventy miles to Coulee City’ you don’t stay there saying, ‘Yes, this is what matters. Iwill worship the sign.’ No, you follow the directions; you follow Him. Thats true worship, by doing what He asks of us.”
Clara’s work ethic is something that stands out through the whole book, and in my life I keep seeing people that dont care enough to try hard enough at the tasks, the jobs they are given. Clara thinks “Passion allows you to see through the mists of disappointment or failures. Earn a little less, but have work you enjoy” and a friend asks her ” ‘ didn’t you say once that all new ideas are suspect because we tend to appreciate what already exists? Anything new dosn’t carry that substance.’ “ These 2 ideas are so true they just jumped off the pages and stuck with me.
When I finished the book, I read the follow up, where the story came from ,what facts the author based the story on, and again I wound up heartbroken seeing that it took almost 100 years for the pain caused one woman by her family to fade so that this amazing story of courage and strength, faith and rejection,pain and love could be told. I’m glad this story came to light and has now been shared with us, the book was well written and I enjoyed it!
“I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review”.