With a lull in my Colorado book tour, I thought I would share reviews of books I have read this summer. As administrator for Women Writing the West, I am fortunate to meet many talented and interesting writers on my journey. These books were written by folks I am proud to call my peers and friends.
As far as my plans go, I will be spending some quality time with family and friends over the next few weeks, and I will acquire and consume some delicious Palisade peaches from Colorado’s West Slope. After I wipe the peach juice from my chin, I will be Wyoming bound for my 40th Reunion with Yellowstone Savage pals. Watch for a report of more good times and Savage adventures in Yellowstone Country.
Drive Me Wild: A Western Odyssey
by Christina Nealson
What would it be like for you and your partner to downsize your belongings until everything you both own fits into an RV so you can head down the road with freedom and abandon? If you have ever seriously wondered about it, read Christina Nealson’s wonderfully written odyssey of five years on the road. While eloquently describing the wonders of the Rocky Mountain West, the landscapes, the wildlife, the majesty of nature, she pulls no punches about the difficulties of living in close quarters, and acknowledges how the tensions that arise can strain and snap. This book was a great summer read that leads the mind to new places and ideas, and I couldn’t put it down until I had finished. My only disappointment was with the sadness that sneaked into this situation without the satisfaction of an uplifting solution. Unfortunately, real life is like that sometimes. Christina picks up the pieces and carries on like a trooper.
Rescue In Poverty Gulch
by Nancy Oswald
It is not often that I read a historical YA which I can enjoy from an adult viewpoint. Rescue In Poverty Gulch was a delightful read which achieved a rich blend of historic adventure for young people and enchanting entertainment for a general audience. Nancy Oswald’s well crafted storytelling and characterization blend to share the predicaments of Ruby and her obstinate burro companion, Maude, during the wild and exciting boom days of the Cripple Creek Mining District. Ruby, a half-orphan raised by her struggling father, relies heavily on her friendship with the hapless donkey as a stable force in her life. Her world begins to crumble when a fire threatens to level the town, and she fears that her vanished father and donkey will never return from the rubble. I could not put the book down until I learned the outcome. Hopefully, Ruby and Maude will share more adventures in the future.
Rough Breaks: A Wyoming High Country Memoir
by Laurie Wagner Buyer
Laurie Wagner Buyer has written a beautiful follow-up memoir to her book, When I Came West. In the first book, she followed her heart and romantic notions of life in the wilderness with a mountain man to spend eight years in relative isolation learning about survival in the Montana mountains. Her latest book, Rough Breaks, follows her saga to the next stage, working on a large Wyoming cattle ranch, falling in love with the ranch owner and the cowgirl lifestyle she has chosen, in spite of ongoing hardships and a seemingly endless string of “rough breaks”, which continually intrude in her happiness and enjoyment of her surroundings. This book was a reality check for all of us who came out west seeking cowboy or cowgirl dreams, a western lifestyle, and a good, reliable cow pony. Ranch life can be a backbreaking endeavor which beats down the spirit and creates impossibly frustrating and heartbreaking situations. Laurie is tough as nails to endure so much and still find the beauty and focus on the treasured moments to convey through her writing. This was a riveting read which I could not put down until it was finished. It leaves me looking for a follow-up retrospective during what is hopefully still unfolding as a time of peace for Laurie in a very different segment of the West.
Thumbs up from Joyce for all of these great books — well done!
Joyce B. Lohse