Wednesday, May 13, 2009

When The Sergeant Came Marching Home

Ahhh! What a wonderful historical fiction novel. I have never heard of Don Lemna, the author, before, but this book was every bit as good as Richard Peck's A Long Way From Chicago (and many other historical fiction books he has written), and maybe, sort-of reminded me a bit of Harris and Me by Paulson (at least the humor part).

Donald is ten when his father returns from fighting in the war and packs up the family to move to a farm in Montana. Donald can't believe his misfortune. He loves his life in Wistola - running water, indoor plumbing, great friends, going to the movies- and is none to happy about the Sergeant's return. His father is not an easy man, either, and his love for his sons is displayed most often in a rigid form of discipline. Donald and his brother Pat reluctantly move, although Donald intends to save his money up from collecting bottles so he can run away to California. There is a lot of work on the farm, and it seems they rarely have money and are in need of selling things to make their mortgage payment. As time passes, events occur that cause Donald to postpone his plans to move away on his own. While this plotline is interesting, what I am not able to adequately express is the humor Lemna is able to create in this novel. I found myself chuckling many times while reading. The ending is also a bit touching and there is no better way I can imagine this story ending. This is a wonderful addition to a collection of novels about life in America in the 40's. This is only Lemna's first book. I would love to read more about Donald and his family in the future.

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