Reading, for me, is entertainment and an escape from the real world. But it can also inform and stretch the boundaries of the life I live.
This novel was at its best in the first half, where the author painted the lives of a pioneering family. The insights into each of the flawed characters made them seem very real, and if I couldn't entirely sympathize with them all, I could at least understand their motivations and what made them tick. Even the horrible Sadie had sorrows and frustrations that I could connect with. Had the author chosen to end the story with the family in Ohio, this would have been a very good novella. But the second half, which follows one son's journey to manhood, was at first so dull that I had to consciously power through it for a while. Too many new characters were introduced, with so superficial an insight that I'm not sure what purpose they served, other than to prop up the story's events. Robert's eventual character arc was interesting enough in the end to have made the time spent on this story not completely wasted, but honestly, I'd have been more satisfied had I DNF'd at the half-way point.
Audiobook version, borrowed from my public library via Overdrive. The performance by a cast of readers was very good, but Cassandra Morris as the voice of Sadie deserves special mention - she made that character come alive.