Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Thousand Acres

"The last few weeks had shown well enough for anyone to understand that the one thing our family couldn't tolerate, that maybe no family could tolerate, was things coming into the open." -Ginny Cook Smith, A Thousand Acres (p. 252)

A Thousand Acres is the story of a family with a lot of issues. The father, Larry Cook, inherited the family farm from his father and grandfather, but then had three daughters to whom he would have to pass the thousand acres, which meant that he had to hope he could trust his sons-in-law. His two oldest daughters were left to help out with the farm, taking care of their father, and raise their youngest sister when their mother passed away from cancer when the oldest was 14. Ginny, the oldest, did well, marrying a boy from town who she had known most of her life and whom her father trusted on the farm. Ty, her husband, also trutsed Larry fully, following his father-in-law's every order and intending to continue things the same way if he ever was given the farm. Basically, he is the perfect son-in-law. Rose, the middle daughter, is the one who spoke out, rebelled, started out selfish and only got worse. Her husband, Pete, was originally a musician, but when he could not make enough money to support them and their children to come, he decided to take on farming. Pete did everything Larry's way simply because he knew no better, but all the while he did as his father-in-law told him to, he harbored an extreme hate for the man that slowly ate away at him. Caroline, the youngest, was sheltered and protected from most of the truths of the girls' childhood, and this innocents, nievete even, continued on into adulthood when she moved away, visited only occasionally, and deffended her father with tooth and nail till the end.

Every family has it's ups and downs, secrets hidden away hoping the world will only see the good, and even a time bomb or two carefully tucked away with everyone hoping it will wait a few generations before it goes off. The Cooks were not so lucky as things began fally apart when Larry decided to give the farm to the girls. Getting older, this may have seemed like a good idea, after all he could use the rest and the boys knew how to take care of things. Only Caroline wasn't so sure, she spoke up and was instantly shot down and cut out, forgotten even until things got unbareable. Ginny and Rose decided to take it all in and deal as best they could, both husbands had high hopes of how to continue the farm, maybe even make it better than it was before. The only problem was that Larry turned out to be the time bomb, and he just needed to be slowed down to set him off. The man seemed to have lost his mind when he body stopped moving at top speed. And the world around these two girls just begins to disolve until nearly nothing is left.

I picked this book up for Banned Books Week, starting it a little late and finishing it a little later, but I have been wanting to read it for years when I first saw it on a Banned list and was intrigued by the reasons and discription. So to say I was a little disappointed is really no surprise, rarely is something as great as you need it to be to hold a candle to the image you had in your mind of it. That being said, I was still shocked at the book. Every time I read a book about 3 daughters, I can't help but try to find the similatiries between my sisters and I and the characters. I think I can see some things in these girls and us, but they are exagerated almost, like these girls couldn't hold those attitudes in any longer and so they blew up on the page. I found myself wondering if they should be like that or if it was a show of the writer's talent. I lean more to the former since I really enjoyed the writing style of Jane Smiley throughout the book. These attitudes made it a little harder for me to get into the book. There was also the fact that while I do have problems with my family, I never went through anything like these girls did. Half the time I was disgusted at the father and even the younger sister, and the other half the time I wanted to stand up and yell "See, it wasn't all the bad growing up for us!"

I must point out that this does NOT make this a bad book. On the contrary, this book got me thinking and feeling, making it a good read in my opinion. I am torn between wanting to get rid of the book because I don't ever want to take the time to read such a sad story again, wanting to keep the book as a prize on my shelf to point out at random, and wanting to chunck it at a certain sister and yell "Count your blessings, damn it!" So this tears me up on my opinion of this book. It was a terrible story, almost like reading a newspaper, something I try never to do, with the glaring light shining down on these poor girls. But then it made me love the childhood I was given, it makes me want to recommend it to anyone who thinks they had it bad which makes me love it as a book. Jane Smiley did an incredible job writing this book!

Pick it up if you dare, if you can stand such a story. And if you can't, just remember that there are people who had way worse from their parents. Come to terms with the truths of your childhood so that these things don't claw you down in your adulthood.

""After a moment, she said, 'Don't do that to me. We're not going to be sad. We're going to be angry until we die. It's the only hope." -Rose Cook Lewis, A Thousand Acres (p. 354)

No comments:

Post a Comment