This is about the Goodenough family who lives in northwest Ohio about 12 miles from Perrysburg in the 1850’s, back when it was known as the Black Swamp. This is like a dysfunctional Little House on the Prairie with the daily struggles of food and disease and day to day life of living on your own in an inhospitable environment. You grow to love some of the Goodenough children– quiet, shy, and smart Robert and Martha– and hate the alcoholic mother and apple-tree-obsessed father who are constantly battling each other at the cost of the farm and the rest of the family. It also takes you to Robert’s future during the Gold rush in California and the discovery of the large redwood and sequoia trees living there. It is there that Robert has to come to face his past on the Ohio farm and the decisions he has made since there is no farther West he can run. Since I grew up in the northwest Ohio region, I really enjoyed the history of the area described in this book and that Johnny Appleseed made some appearances. I also found the strength and optimism of Robert and Martha and some of the other characters that have had a rough life inspiring. And I actually enjoyed learning about trees. I was thinking about not reading this book based on other people’s reviews but I am glad I decided to give it a try and found it a fast read.
I gave this book 4 stars on Goodreads.
I received an advanced copy of this book from Penguin’s First to Read Program with no requirement to review book.