Prairie Winter by Bonnie Geisert is the third in a trilogy of books about Rachel and the rest of her family based largely on Geisert's own childhood in the 1950s. I absolutely enjoyed reading this book, finding many parallels between Geisert's upbringing and my mother's. Rachel, as her character is named, lives in the midwest on a farm and experiences many traditional tales of woe of farm children: living away from friends, not having a phone, and having to help with the chores. During the winter of 1955-56 the weather is particulary bad, necessitating Rachel and her two older sisters, Kim and Carol, to move to a hotel in town for several weeks in the winter so they can continue to attend school.
Lessons, the second in the series was my next read as I followed the story of Rachel and her family. This middle book took on a serious note as Rachel's father worked through depression after the birth of a boy, Matthew. Rachel learns that prior to her oldest sister being born her parents also had a son who died in infancy. Their Lutheran pastor at the time told her father that this son had not gone to heaven because he had not been baptized. Years later this continues to weigh on her father as does the guilt he feels because they were not able to get him to the doctor in time to save him.
Last night I read Prairie Summer, Geisert's first book. This book focuses a great deal on the various farm chores that the family all helped in performing in order to keep their farm operating. Rachel's mother is pregnant with Matthew and Rachel often feels as though her father doesn't like or approve of her. She is just enough younger than her sisters for her "help" to not always be helpful and her father expects a great deal from his children.
All of these books were interesting and entertaining and I could relate to much of what Geisert wrote about, including the religious aspects. And each of these books are short and would make good read alouds to help children explore how things worked in past times. The strong work ethic and respect for parents are present throughout each installment. Geisert's fictionalized account of her own childhood gave me opportunity to reflect on and imagine my mother and her sibling's similar farm experiences as they grew up in the same envirionment. As I finished this series last night, I began thinking what adult book would be the equivalent to this series. Mildred Armstrong Kalish's book Little Heathens (a popular selection around my area) came to mind. While the time period is slightly different, anyone looking for a book recounting farm life in the midwest will enjoy either of these authors.