Middle Grade Monday: Sweet Home Alaska, by Carole Estby Dagg

Title: Sweet Home Alaska
Author: Carole Estby Dagg
Publication Info: Nancy Paulson Books, 2016. 298 pages, Kindle edition
Source: Library digital resources (Overdrive)

Publisher's Blurb:
Terpsichore can’t wait to follow in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s footsteps . . . now she just has to convince her mom. It’s 1934, and times are tough for their family. To make a fresh start, Terpsichore’s father signs up for President Roosevelt’s Palmer Colony project, uprooting them from Wisconsin to become pioneers in Alaska. Their new home is a bit of a shock—it’s a town still under construction in the middle of the wilderness, where the residents live in tents and share a community outhouse. But Terpsichore’s not about to let first impressions get in the way of this grand adventure. Tackling its many unique challenges with her can-do attitude, she starts making things happen to make Alaska seem more like home. Soon, she and her family are able to start settling in and enjoying their new surroundings—everyone except her mother, that is. So, in order to stay, Terpsichore hatches a plan to convince her that it’s a wonderful—and civilized—place to live . . . a plan that’s going to take all the love, energy, and Farmer Boy expertise Terpsichore can muster.

My Review:
This historical fiction, based on a real program that was part of the New Deal in the 1930s, is an intriguing read with a firmly upbeat feel. In some ways, it might be a bit too positive: I can't really quite believe in all the happy endings. On the other hand, sometimes you need a book that tosses "realism" to the winds and gives you pure hope. 

I'm always happy to read about obscure bits of history I didn't know about, and I've found a lot of those reading children's fiction. This is one of those things. In some ways, what amazes me most isn't that Roosevelt thought of sending people to homestead in Alaska (in a manner of speaking; these weren't homesteads in the traditional sense), but that anyone thought it was worth the effort for a mere thousand families at most. It seems such a huge endeavor for a pretty small return, given the total number of people in desperate straights.

But what of the story? Aside from the plot maybe not being quite believable, I found the main character likeable, and secondary characters were well developed as well. The range of reactions to the abrupt shift to a pioneer life was interesting, though I suspect that Terpsichore's accountant father should have had a bit more difficulty with mastering the tasks needed.

Overall, it was a fun read if not terribly substantial.

My Recommendation:
Read this book for the interesting history and for times when you need a positive story where people succeed at what they tackle.

FTC Disclosure: I borrowed an electronic copy of Sweet Home Alaska from my library, and received nothing from the author or the publisher in exchange for my honest review. The opinions expressed are my own and those of no one else. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”   

 ©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2022
 As always, please ask permission to use any photos or text. Link-backs appreciated.

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