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O Pioneers! by Willa Cather

I bought O Pioneers! off the classic shelf at Barnes N Noble since it was a fairly short fiction book. I like pioneers too. After reading it in several hours that night, I decided I need to read more well written fiction. This is definitely a Must Read!
The story takes place on the plains of Nebraska at the turn of the twentieth century- (1900's for those of you like me who get that confused.) Alexandra's father John Bergeson is dying. She is the oldest of four children and the only girl. She has two brothers near her age and one about fifteen years younger. Alexandra has been talking to her father about his struggles to farm the virgin land for the last six years. He recently paid off the loan on his land and everyone feels the irony that he should die now, just when he can see success on the horizon. But Alexandra has a brain for business. She thinks before working while her brothers Oscar and Lou don't think much and prefer to follow the crowd. Mr Bergeson calls the family together just before dying to inform them that Alexandra is to be running the show and the boys are to do as she says with the farm. All are to be equal. Alexandra works with her brain, the sons with their strength.
For a while they prosper, but soon a drought comes. Many families leave the area and give up on the lands possibilities. Alexandra won't. After hearing that a local real estate agent is buying up the farms being sold, she goes to an older more prosperous town to think and learn. She comes back with a renewed love for the land and optimism about the future. The family reluctantly decides to mortgage the farm and buy some of the properties being left behind. For such a short story there is so much more. But I will not spoil the story for you. It's just too good to give away.
Willa Cather has a way of telling the story with grace and style. She paints a perfect picture in the mind of the scenes, characters and their emotions, and the history in each phase of the story. She expertly describes the conflicts, dreams, anxieties and even blind spots of the various characters. The astonishing twists at the end are hardly predictable. And if you can predict them, they rip your heart out entertaining the thought! I ended up bawling at 1:20 in the morning as I finished the story and wished for more.
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