Genre: Classic, Indiana, Coming of Age, Rags to Riches
This is truly a forgotten classic. I first read it many years ago, and recently had the desire to pick it up again. I found that it was not as readily available as many other classics, which is certainly a shame as it is a wonderful book.
The story concerns a young orphan, named Freckles, who has personally experienced many of the worst aspects of humanity in his short life. Sadly, these experiences have left Freckles with only one hand, no material possessions, little education, and most importantly, no concerned friends or loved ones. As a result of the kindness of Mr. Mclean, part owner of the grand rapids lumber company, Freckles finds himself serving as the protector of timber in the Limberlost swamp. The timber itself is very valuable, and there are several unsavory characters who would love to have a chance to sell the timber for themselves. This employment proves to be life changing for Freckles, and ultimately leads to his discovery of the history of his past. The book also features a charming love story that is both tender and engaging.
This is a great read, but I did find it slightly less enjoyable than Porter's Girl of the Limberlost, which also takes place in Indiana. Porter describes Freckles as "plucky," and that really is the best word to describe him. This book has just enough action to keep the reader engaged, and is a quick and easy read. What really comes through on each page is Porter's love of nature and all it's wonders. I am sure I will be rereading this again in years to come.