From the publisher:
From the bestselling author of The Ragged Edge of Night comes a powerful and poetic novel of survival and sacrifice on the American frontier.
Wyoming, 1876. For as long as they have lived on the frontier, the Bemis and Webber families have relied on each other. With no other settlers for miles, it is a matter of survival. But when Ernest Bemis finds his wife, Cora, in a compromising situation with their neighbor, he doesn’t think of survival. In one impulsive moment, a man is dead, Ernest is off to prison, and the women left behind are divided by rage and remorse.
Losing her husband to Cora’s indiscretion is another hardship for stoic Nettie Mae. But as a brutal Wyoming winter bears down, Cora and Nettie Mae have no choice but to come together as one family—to share the duties of working the land and raising their children. There’s Nettie Mae’s son, Clyde—no longer a boy, but not yet a man—who must navigate the road to adulthood without a father to guide him, and Cora’s daughter, Beulah, who is as wild and untamable as her prairie home.
Bound by the uncommon threads in their lives and the challenges that lie ahead, Cora and Nettie Mae begin to forge an unexpected sisterhood. But when a love blossoms between Clyde and Beulah, bonds are once again tested, and these two resilient women must finally decide whether they can learn to trust each other—or else risk losing everything they hold dear.
I was a huge consumer of historical fiction at one point in my life and many of the paperback books I have tucked away are from this genre. When I had the opportunity to read One For the Blackbird, and One For the Crow, I couldn’t say no. In fact, I thrilled at the potential behind the pages after I read the description of the story. Women. Frontier. Overcoming together? Amen!
One thing about this book that I found difficult to do – was put it down. The hardships that the characters face and the desire to find out the outcomes kept me up late at night, pushing forward, reading more. At times, it was a difficult process. There is enough hardship that the characters face – and a few twists and gasps along the way – that it’s easily a page turner.
I got bogged down sometimes by having too much description and not enough action… but that may well be my personal preference for more dialogue to drive a story.
The story itself drove me and not so much the characters. I really had a hard time connecting with all four of the main protagonists. And don’t even get me started on Substance’s portions in this book.
Beulah’s character draws the reader further into her world and insight when her point of view is being shared. It was easy to understand why Nettie Mae disliked her so much. Beulah is annoying. I also think she was a bit too tropey. However, she’s got a voice that drives a good portion of the narrative that the author is trying to present to her readers. So, dreamy Beulah’s a doe-eyed dreamy-headed bimbo. That’s okay.
Clyde has been handed the most hardship out of the entire character set and he never once complains. He’s a boy of sixteen who is thrust into the position of taking over for his not-so-awesome father. His journey was rather satisfying to read – he grows up well and fast.
Slowly, slowly, Clyde turned in place, presenting everything to the creature he held. First sight, last sight, the only and sweetest sight of the world and all that lived upon it.
Nettie Mae is an unending Ball of Rage. Sometimes I found her point of view to be hard to consume. I could do without taking on a fictional character’s pain and rage as much as I did with Nettie Mae.
She snapped at Beulah, “You’re just a stupid child. A witless prairie rat. You know nothing of me – or my heart, or my fears. And you certainly know nothing of Clyde.”
Like Nettie Mae’s rage, Cora is plagued by uncertainty and depression. Her fear, her loneliness, her sadness. It’s all consuming. It makes her hard to relate to – you want to shake her and push her throughout the book.
This isn’t a book that’ll leave you wishing for more of the character’s stories. It has a satisfying, if somewhat predicable, ending and the journey that each character takes along the way leaves you content at the end. The struggles of living on a frontier are well highlighted and real in the rawness of the truth in this book.
I’d rate this book a 3.5 out of 5 and I’d recommend it to any historical fiction lovers. It’s clear the author researched her content, she gave a detailed explanation at the end of her book about the personal connection to this story. I enjoyed her writing style enough I would likely read more of her books.
My professional background in biotechnology as a research chemist and as a veterinary technician has allowed me to have experienced two vastly different fields and for that I am thankful. In both careers, I have mentored, encouraged, and developed talent.
As a mother of two (a daughter and a son), I'm a self-proclaimed backyard chicken guru and someone who has “foster failed” nearly all the animals currently running the household. Oh, and I maintain a husband in my spare time.