Reading books written in or about past eras brings perspective to present day conundrums. Is America more polarized than ever? Not according to Lidie Newton's experience in the Kansas Territory of 1850. At that time, the issue that divided the country was slavery. Smiley's engaging narrative explores the challenges of trying to live peacefully among people who are passionate on two sides of an issue where morality, social and economic drivers, family relationships, and self-interest are hopelessly tangled.
Smiley does a masterful job of presenting her young heroine's dilemma against a backdrop of history. How do we communicate in a hostile environment? What is at stake? When is it time to take action? Lydie's reluctance to commit one way or the other may not be admirable, but her confusion is genuine. Readers who enjoy the adventure of survival against the odds and the challenge of thinking through moral dilemmas will like the book.