The Year We Were Famous
By Carole Etsby Dagg
Age Range: 12 and up
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Clarion Books; 1 edition (April 4, 2011)
With their family home facing foreclosure, seventeen-year-old Clara Estby and her mother, Helga, need to raise a lot of money fast—no easy feat for two women in 1896. Helga wants to tackle the problem with her usual loud and flashy style, while Clara favors a less showy approach. Together they come up with a plan to walk the 4,600 miles from Mica Creek, Washington, to New York City—and if they can do it in only seven months, a publisher has agreed to give them $10,000. Based on the true story of the author’s great-aunt and great-grandmother, this is a fast-paced historical adventure that sets the drama of Around the World in Eighty Days against an American backdrop during the time of the suffragist movement, the 1896 presidential campaign, and the changing perception of “a woman’s place” in society.
Synopsis and Publishing Information Courtesy of Amazon.com
The Year We Were Famous is an unusual story, about a period of time that has lain forgotten for many years. Near the turn of the century, it chronicles the spirit of the frontier during the time of the Suffragist movement.
Clara and her mother’s journey is based on the author’s own family members, who took pedestrianism to new heights by walking from Spokane, Washington to New York City with only five dollars and the clothes on their backs. They didn’t do it merely as a publicity stunt, they did it to save their farm because of the debts piling up after several bad harvests.
Clara’s voice was unique, simple, and spoke of the true meaning of the frontier: survival. While it was her mother’s idea to walk across the U.S., it was Clara’s journey of finding what she wanted to do with her life that really dominated the trip.
Faced with trials and tribulations straight out of a Gary Paulsen novel, The Year We Were Famous is a true gem in the Young Adult genre. I only wish more of the story was there, but alas, Clara and her mother never did write the book they set out to do at the beginning. And with their deaths, a part of their story died with them too.
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