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Publishers Weekly

"A strong protagonist is at the center of Hardinger’s debut, an early-1900s tale of a resolute girl in a Midwestern family that’s burdened with hardship. Bertie Winslow is a responsible, observant child with an emotionally absent mother and an alcoholic father who can only be relied on to cruelly tease his children. At nine years old, Bertie is forced to care for her sisters, baby Opal and 3-year-old Dacia, and by the time Bertie is 11, she also needs to tend to her depressed mother’s new baby twins. Several years later, Bertie’s mother becomes ill and dies, leaving Bertie in charge of four children. Because the family is poor and the father is often away on binges, the struggles Bertie must endure with housework and child rearing are nonstop, constantly testing her emotional fortitude. Bertie finally decides she must marry—she’s fortunate to find a good man—and when they relocate from Missouri to Kansas, her one friend, Alta Bea, follows with her own new husband. The friendship is sometimes awkward, because Alta Bea is a modern thinker, but Bertie continually gains wisdom in all areas of her life. The characters in this story are vividly portrayed, with nuanced, complex personalities. The resilience and strength of the narrator will stay with readers long after they’ve finished. "

Booklist Online

"From a young age Albertina “Bertie” Winslow has had to take care of her younger siblings. The death of her brother Timmy, when Bertie is only six, is just the first in a long line of tragedies. When Bertie is 15, her mother dies and Bertie is left in charge of her two younger sisters and twin toddler brothers as well as her alcoholic father. When her two older brothers devise a plan to ease some of her burdens, Bertie resists and finds another solution to help her family. Luckily, the solution, marriage to the smooth-talking Sam, is not another tragedy. Although she is lucky in love, Bertie continues to be unlucky in life. The author pulls no punches detailing the hardships of life on a Kansas farm at the turn of the twentieth century. Bertie is a classic Midwesterner: tough, stubborn, and resilient. What starts out as a tale of hardscrabble historical fiction turns into an uplifting story of forgiveness and grace, and would be a good crossover for Christian fiction readers."

— Lynnanne Pearson

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