First of all, for my Goodreads friends, check out the cover that they default to for this book. It’s a horrendous “updated” cover with a live model. Maybe I’m biased but I love the older covers with the drawings by Garth Williams.
Anyway, book 4 brings us back to the Ingalls family. They arrive in Minnesota and set out to make a new life for themselves. They first live in a dugout with a sod roof but Charles is confident he will have a large wheat harvest that year so he borrows money for the materials and builds them a house. It’s the first time they’ve used wood from a lumber yard and he seems to go all out – floors, windows, etc.
Nothing quite goes as planned and the “grasshopper” weather they’ve been hearing about finally lives up to its’ name with a grasshopper infestation that decimates the crop and almost all green, living things around them. To pay his debts Charles then has to walk hundreds of miles east several times to areas where he could work someone else’s farm.
Then, after they finally get back on their feet, weeks of blizzard weather cause major issues and one serious scare.
One of the reasons I loved this installment (5-stars) is that it not only shows the reality of life in that time but it also reminds us that sometimes you have to buck up and deal with consequences. Charles made the choice to borrow the money for the new house by betting on his future crops. The risk didn’t pay off so he had to pay the piper by leaving his family and finding another way to make the money he needed.
Hardship and frustration were only part of the story. There was also a lot of love between the members of the Ingalls family and good times with their new church and at school – where we are introduced to the infamous Nellie Oleson for the first time. Listen, she’s a be-yotch in the book, no doubt, but she doesn’t hold a candle to the TV version. I chuckled many times reading Laura’s inner monologue about her frenemy. Laura so wants to be a good girl but she has a hot temper and holds a grudge. I love that about her.
Another great book and can’t wait to move onto number 5.