Genre: Classics, Coming of Age, Indiana
Reading Challenges: 28 for 100+ in 2009

What a delightful read this is! I first read this novel when I was a youngster, close to ten years old (that makes me sound like a really old lady, which I hope I am not at only 32 years old). I had forgotten much of the story, but after reading Freckles earlier this year I thought I would pick it up again. I was happy to find it even better than I had remembered.

The book is the story of Elnora Comstock; a young girl living in rural Indiana, on the brink of the now largely vanished Limberlost swamp. Elnora is an only child, and lives with her mother who was widowed when Elnora's father was sucked down by a bog near the time of Elnora's birth. Mrs. Comstock has nursed her bitterness over the death of her husband for many years, and treats her daughter with contempt and cruelty. Elnora, who is truly a creature of the Limberlost herself, desires to find her way in the world. When her mother refuses to pay for her to attend high school, Elnora turns to the swamp she loves to help fund her education. Her passion for self-improvement, and kind-hearted nature win over those around her, and ultimately lead to a change of heart for those closest to her.

This is a great story of triumph over struggle, and the will to succeed in the face of adversity. Sometimes, especially in our cynical world, it is refreshing to read about people who really care about each other. I especially love the idea that people can change, especially when they learn the lessons that life has to teach them. The book also has a lovely little romance, which while not the major plot line, contributes to a perfect ending. If you haven't ever read this, give it a try. It is a fast read, and one that will lift your spirits.

Also, if you would rather read than listen, there is a great version of this book on Librivox. Unfortunately, the recording is not read by only one reader, but most of the volunteers did a pretty good job. While it is not a perfect recording, at least it is free.
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