Goodreads Synopsis: In 1896, a Norwegian immigrant and mother of eight children named Helga Estby was behind on taxes and the mortgage when she learned that a mysterious sponsor would pay $10,000 to a woman who walked across America.
Hoping to win the wager and save her family’s farm, Helga and her teenaged daughter Clara, armed with little more than a compass, red-pepper spray, a revolver, and Clara’s curling iron, set out on foot from Eastern Washington. Their route would pass through 14 states, but they were not allowed to carry more than five dollars each. As they visited Indian reservations, Western boomtowns, remote ranches and local civic leaders, they confronted snowstorms, hunger, thieves and mountain lions with equal aplomb.
Their treacherous and inspirational journey to New York challenged contemporary notions of femininity and captured the public imagination. But their trip had such devastating consequences that the Estby women’s achievement was blanketed in silence until, nearly a century later, Linda Lawrence Hunt encountered their extraordinary story.
I’ve been trying to write less negative reviews this year, and instead focus on books that I’ve really enjoyed. But this book…Wow did I have so many issues with it so brace yourself. This is going to be a rant.
I picked up this book because I really wanted to learn about a badass woman who would walk across America in 1896. How cool does that sound? She would have to be crazy brave and I was fully expecting to be inspired by this story. But sadly the author managed to hit all of my book pet peeves and I didn’t even finish the book.
First it was annoying how much the author shoved in her personal religious sentiment into the book. Nothing in the synopsis had warned me this would be the case, and it was so annoying to come across. On top of it the writing style was poor and repetitive. I was listening to the book, but even that wasn’t helpful for the repeating narration.
The author is judgmental, making unsupported claims about prostitution and never once calling out Helga for her racism, instead I felt like she made it seem reasonable! The way the author talked about Native Americans just really bugged me. Throughout the whole book I felt that the author made a lot of personal claims about Helga, without giving any proof for her claims. How did she know about Helga’s thoughts on religion? She would just say things, hardly ever quoting anything Helga actually wrote.
All in all, this book was terrible. I’m sure Helga did something very unique for the times, but I hated everything about the book and never finished the story. I gave this book 1 star on Goodreads.