My Face to the Wind: The Diary of Sarah Jane Price, a Prairie Teacher (Dear America)My Face to the Wind: The Diary of Sarah Jane Price, a Prairie Teacher by Jim Murphy
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

My husband is really cool. Okay, so you’re thinking… what exactly does that have to do with this book? Okay, well, he planned a surprise trip out west for our anniversary, and he bought me a book for every place where we would be staying. Our first stop was Broken Bow, Nebraska. You folks are all readers, right? So you know why my dude’s a keeper.

This book was pretty good, though I was reading it as an adult and obviously it’s aimed at upper elementary/middle grade readers. I’m a teacher, so I was thinking about which of my students would enjoy it.

I’d say that I’ve read better YA and Middle Grade books. There was a sprinkling of modern language and turns of phrase that distracted me from the time period in which the story takes place.

As a teacher, I definitely felt for the main character as she struggled to take her father’s place and do her job with no support from the community, no textbooks, and a garbage classroom. A lot of teachers this very second are in a similar situation! I couldn’t help but put myself in Sarah Jane’s shoes. The snowstorm element brought up good memories of reading “The Long Winter” by Laura Ingalls Wilder. But then I thought, maybe I should just re-read “The Long Winter.”

Some very good descriptions. I loved how the wind was personified in the story, and when I got to Broken Bow, yeah, the wind feels like it’s out to get you!

The story could have done a little more with the Native Americans. The characters were operating under racist misinformation that was disproven, but it wasn’t something that was lingered on or developed.

On the other hand, I really felt like there was something romantic between the landlady and the priest that was never developed. I thought that was a cool subplot, especially because the MC was too young to really get what was going on, but nothing came of it, which wasn’t very rewarding for people who bother to pay attention to subtext.

Might be worth adding to your classroom library, as I think it would definitely interest some readers.

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