Release Date: September 2, 2014
Genre: Historical Fiction
About the Book: Letitia holds nothing more dear than the papers that prove she is no longer a slave. They may not cause white folks to treat her like a human being, but at least they show she is free. She trusts in those words she cannot read–as she is beginning to trust in Davey Carson, an Irish immigrant cattleman who wants her to come west with him.
Nancy Hawkins is loathe to leave her settled life for the treacherous journey by wagon train, but she is so deeply in love with her husband that she knows she will follow him anywhere–even when the trek exacts a terrible cost.
Betsy is a Kalapuya Indian, the last remnant of a once proud tribe in the Willamette Valley in Oregon territory. She spends her time trying to impart the wisdom and ways of her people to her grandson. But she will soon have another person to care for.
As season turns to season, suspicion turns to friendship, and fear turns to courage, three spirited women will discover what it means to be truly free in a land that makes promises it cannot fulfill.
Based on a true story.
Wanda's Thoughts: A Light in the Wilderness is an informative read, historical fiction based on a true story that will simply touch your heart. This is the story of three strong women whose lives are woven together with unexpected events that changed their lives forever.
1840’s – Letitia is leaving Kentucky as a free woman, no longer a slave, and she has papers to prove it. She is on her way to Missouri where she wouldn’t have to be afraid anymore. Good things happen to Letitia in Missouri. She has earned money as a midwife and becomes friends with Nancy Hawkins, delivering her baby. She also becomes friends with Davey Carson, an Irish immigrant, who treats her with kindness. Davey is always cheerful and seemed to be an easy man to be around. Davey offers Letitia an arrangement – to marry her, but not legally because it is forbidden for a white man to marry a black woman. But Letitia and Davey soon discover that freed blacks are not wanted in Missouri and they begin to make plans to start a new life in Oregon. It seemed like Oregon had good things to offer and half the town was heading west. Letitia and Davey are ready to begin a grand adventure together, moving to a place where slavery had never been known, and if she was mistaken for a slave, she had her papers proving that she was free. Together, Davey and Letitia plan for Oregon, to start their life together, and the story unfolds as they begin their arduous journey, a journey filled with challenges, tragedy, and survival. Being a black woman on the Oregon Trail took a lot of strength and courage for Letitia, and she was constantly fighting for acceptance. But Letitia realizes that freedom is having the courage to do what must be done.
Nancy Hawkins, a very warm and genuine woman who befriends Letitia, is traveling with her husband and children on the Oregon Trail. It is an extremely difficult journey for Nancy when tragedy strikes her family. Nancy is a very likable and well developed character in the story. I connected to her immediately.
Betsy is a Kalapuya Indian woman in Oregon. She cherishes her grandson, Little Shoot, and teaches him to survive. I’m sorry to say that I didn’t find this character interesting and never connected to her.
This is a compelling and achingly sad read and a story that you’ll not soon forget. Jane Kirkpatrick has a way of drawing you into this era of time with her descriptive writing and realistic characters. This is an excellent historical read and one of my favorites for 2014. My rating is 5 stars.
“You can say ‘slave.’ I ain’t one, though I was, and yes it tainted who I is, but I’s free, always was even when owned. Free in my thinkin’. Free as a child of God.”
“Maybe that was what freedom meant, being in a place where one didn’t fear.”
I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions shared are my own.