Sunday, March 9, 2014

Readdreamrelax #33 Land of the Buffalo Bones: The Diary of Mary Ann Elizabeth Rodgers, An English Girl in Minnesota, New Yeovil, Minnesota 1873 by Marion Dane Bauer


Summary: "Land of the Buffalo Bones" is the diary of Mary Rodgers, known as Polly. Promising religious freedom and fertile land, Polly's father, Reverend Rodgers, moves their Baptist community from England to the Minnesota prairie. After a treacherous journey across the sea and across this country, Polly finds that it is no paradise at all. Written with incredible heart and compassion, insight and sensitivity, Marion Dane Bauer has created one of the most sophisticated and courageous characters Dear America has seen.

From the cover and the summary, I expected for Land of the Buffalo Bones by Marion Dane Bauer to be just like any other travel book so to speak, but I was surprised at the grit and reality written within the pages, as well as numerous hardships that the family has faced in living in Minnesota in the year of 1873 up until 1874.

Mary Ann Elizabeth Rodgers and her family moved from Yeovil England to Minnesota in hopes of prosperity, and there might be a big case where the truth was either hidden or ignored about the hardships that they would face. While living in Hawley/New Yeovil from 1873 up until 1874, she and her family face many hardships such as grasshopper plague, blizzards, loons, lack of food and basic necessities as well as having to care for a father that has his head stuck in the clouds and refuses to acknowledge difficulties. Along with these problems there is also problems and encounters with Native Americans, although I’m thankful that Native Americans have kind of a positive portrayal in Land of the Buffalo Bones instead of the stereotypical bloodthirsty that most people are familiar with.

Compared to other Dear America novels I have read, Land of the Buffalo Bones by Marion Dane Bauer is longer and in my opinion is written realistically from what I can see. I feel that in some ways its similar to The Fences Between Us by Kirby Larson because both diaries, from what I can see are based on actual situations/actual people, except I think its much better researched and better written, at least I’m not plopped down in the middle of the story expecting to know who’s who because the reader is introduced to the characters.

The entire time I was reading Land of the Buffalo Bones by Marion Dane Bauer, part of me felt that I was reading Little House Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, especially when it relates to cold winter and grasshopper clouds. I also wonder if Mary Ann Elizabeth Rodgers lived in Minnesota at the same time that Laura Ingalls Wilder lived there as well? Something to speculate I think.

I will give a fair warning that Land of the Buffalo Bones by Marion Dane Bauer isn’t Little House Series where despite numerous problems that the family has faced, there was something, well, fairy-tale about the books, and in fact Land of the Buffalo Bones by Marion Dane Bauer is very realistic as well as pessimistic and upsetting because no matter how much struggle involves, the settlers can’t really crawl out of trying to survive. The realization for the protagonist comes a little too late for me because in the entire book she did nothing but complain, (which she had a right to do,) and she never changed to appreciating Minnesota until the very end.

As an aside note, I feel grateful that today there are such things that can help us be more aware and not to be tricked just like the settlers who moved to New Yeovil.

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

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