Monday, October 19, 2009

Sarah's Wish: Young Adult Fiction

I am feeling a little guilty.

I enjoyed something so much this afternoon that I just sat on the couch.

I'll have you know that I didn't sit and relax on the couch because I needed to finish it today. (I'm not that much of a procrastinator.)

Regardless of the urgency, I truly enjoyed my vegging with . . .

Sarah's Wish

Sarah's Wish is the first of three books by Jim Baumgardner. It is the nineteenth century story of a little girl who survives a snake induced buggy accident that claims the life of her mother, Rachel.

This tragic incident is what forms Sarah's wish: to be a part of a family. Her wish is so strong that it almost overshadows her grief over the loss of her mom. Sarah's lack of displaying noticeable sadness over her mother's death damages, in my view, her credibility but Baumgardner makes up for this shortcoming by introducing other witty characters that capture your attention with their resourcefulness and kindness.

Sarah also develops an obsession with fulfilling her late mother's life work of delivering the last "package" to a safe location in the underground railroad. We see Sarah grow and gain wisdom as the narrative travels closer to her wish of being part of a family. Sarah goes so far as to meet potential parents but then must decide whether they are the right parents for her caring and freedom-loving spirit. Sarah is forced to decide for herself what it means to be a Christian and help someone in need.

My philosophy of homeschooling is to incorporate school into our life. I don't simply want to read a book because it is part of the rubric. I want to read it because we can study it from many vantage points and learn several disciplines at once. Baumgardner's work fits my wish for quality granola literature. It will be incorporated into our lessons when my kids reach the right maturity level to deal with such hefty issues as the loss of a mother and the inhumane treatment of another human.

Sarah's Wish would easily aide our study of Midwestern history. It powerfully demonstrates the tough times experienced during the slavery era of our country. The ideas are already churning about how we could use this book as a spring board to delve further into this time period by:
  • studying the art of drying and using herbs
  • learning how to make a wheel
  • educating ourselves in the physics of what causes a spinning wheel to remain upright
  • simmering Granny's rabbit stew
  • reading more about the underground railroad
  • reviewing how boats are made and crafting a small vessel

Jim Baumgardner, a 62 year old grandfather, has obviously done his homework in learning a great deal about this time period. Although the main character sometimes appears one dimensional in her laser like focus to fulfill a deceased mother's cause, Baumgardner succeeds in weaving a beautiful and entertaining story that lures you in as he successfully makes history come alive. He safely crafts a book with the knowledge that his grandchildren will be reading it and avoids any potentially questionable material.

I would definitely recommend Sarah's Wish, and presumably the rest of the series as long as they resemble this charming story. At 123 pages it is a quick read. With the purchase of the book, you can even download an audio version of Sarah's Wish. Jim personally autograph's each book ($9.99) and offers free shipping. Visit his website at Sarah's Web.

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As a member of the Homeschool Crew, I was given this product to review,
and I do not have to return the product to the vendor. I was not paid for this post.
All opinions expressed in this post are mine with the help my amazing Hottie Hubby.