I downloaded Hattie Big Sky because it sounded like a good story for my kids. Of course I was just kidding myself. It was really a good story for me. Hattie Big Sky is one of those stories that wrap you up in location, history, and personality. Hattie is a western, but a western set in 1918. We live in Montana with Hattie, but we are experiencing the domestic side of WWI also. The author did a fine job of capturing the strength of the American people as seen in the homesteaders who bled out on the Montana plains; and the ugly side of Americans as seen in the mob mentality of those hating anything German. The author did a wonderful job balancing situation and charater. There were no "Disney" bad guys in the story (although there are people you won't like). The ending is fulfilling, but it surely isn't what you will be expecting. Hattie Big Sky is an engaging listen and expands your consciousness when you aren't looking. The narrator was fabulous.
This book has made it on my "Books of the Highest Order" shelf. I knew nothing about this book when I selected it from Audible other than it was a Newberry winner. It is a book that has everything going against it by contemporary standards.There is no action. There is no abuse. There is no mystery. There is no sexuality. And to make its success with me even stranger it is a book that supports honesty, integrity, forgiveness and love. Those things often are key ingredients to a mediocre book by mediocre authors. Clearly Linda Sue Park is no mediocre author. The elements of the story? Set in Medieval Korea in a time of peace. A young orphan boy lives with Crane Man (only one leg) under a bridge. The moment of action? The young orphan boy, who usually scavenges for food in the garbage heaps, becomes the unlikely assistant to a master potter. You are on the edge of your seat, huh! The story then fills out with the orphan's relationship to Crane Man, Ming (the ornery potter), the potter's wife, and the boy's dream of becoming a potter himself someday. Somehow Sue Lee Park takes these unlikely elements and with subtlety and simple elegance, weaves a story that pulls you so gently into it that you aren't aware of when you left your own world. The story, without an of the usual gimmicks or tricks, holds you to the end where you make very likely end up like me, open mouthed and speechless at the beautiful vase that Sue Lee Park has offered to you.
When I saw that this book was narrated by the author I almost didn't bother to listen to it. I've heard too often the horrible results of authors who think, "Because I wrote it, I can read it." This is not the case with Mr. Gaiman. He was as good a narrator as I've ever heard and better than many.
The subject material was superbly handled. There were so many places the author could have gotten off balance and spoiled the result, but he kept is all perfectly balanced. We had ghosts, and werewolves, and vampires, and ghouls, and humans and yet there were no excesses. There was nothing "fantastic" about any of them. Never was I attracted to a character (and I was attracted to all the characters) because of what he was, but because of who he was. The ending could have been so easily butchered, as so many are, but ending balanced the sad with the hopeful. What a wonderful book.
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