This novel contains all the necessary ingredients expected by a reader of literature: pathos, suspense, mystery and a suggestion of romance—it even has a happy surprise near the end. But it's obvious that the author also intends to deliver a sense of life today in western Kansas and an appreciation of history related to Carnegie Libraries—particularly Carnegie Libraries in the western half of Kansas. The story's contents also make it obvious that the author has a background in art and community centers.
The book's narrative is structured in a unique manner. The story is told in first person by three different women in a repeating pattern: (1) Angelina, (2) Traci, (3) Gayle. The pattern holds from beginning to the ending Epilogue except at the beginnings of Book One—news article about a tornado—and Book Two —extended excerpt from a 1910 diary. This construction effectively approaches the story from three directions told by three women with different personalities and life histories.
Readers who like dramas about women trying to figure out exactly where they are in life will find this book of interest. Each of the three narrators are at a crisis point, and as the plot develops each find new life that's a detour from the direction of their lives at the beginning of the book. As the historical elements of the story are brought into the narrative the three women narrators learn to identify with and take inspiration from the preceding generations of women. The lesson from history—stated bluntly—is that if it weren't for women there wouldn't be any culture in Kansas. ; )
I grew up in rural Kansas, and I believe myself to be almost qualified to pass judgment on a book about Kansas. I compliment the author on successfully capturing the spirit of rural Kansas in an interesting and respectful way. However, I don't recall any reference to the growing Hispanic populations in Dodge City and Garden City (at about 62% and 52% respectively and even higher percentages in the schools). However, the Anglo and Hispanic communities don't intermingle very much, so in that way this novel truly depicts typical life of the Anglos.