Threads A Depression Era Tale by Charlotte Whitney is truly and amazing story about three sisters growing up during the Depression Era. It was a real treat to read this one. I just adore some of the dialect in this book too. The farm dialect in Michigan and the Midwest include using the word “Crick” instead of Creek for example. Or instead of saying supposed to, the dialect was “posta”. Some of the dialect just brought a smile to my face. I grew up in the 80’s and while I have always lived in Ohio, we often talked the same way. Even that many years later. I loved that Charlotte had included some of that dialect without being a distraction to the story. Using some of the dialect added to the feel of the time period and setting. I absolutely loved it.
“I grew up on a Michigan farm and often heard stories from my family of the troubling years during the Great Depression. While farmers were better positioned then many, they still faced losing their farms because they couldn’t meet the mortgage or tax payments. My maternal grandmother told me that their family was “lucky” because they only went hungry for one year. I decided to use this backdrop for the setting of Threads.
Developing the personalities of the three sisters was fun, and they emerged as uniquely different. Using the authentic dialect was much more difficult and resulted in my creating spreadsheets for each character and which words and phrases each used. End the end I was glad that I put in the extra effort. Imagine reading Huckleberry Finn without the dialect. I also wanted a feel-good ending without sugar coating the hard times that most Americans faced during that era.”
“THREADS A DEPRESSION ERA TALE by Charlotte Whitney is an engaging historical fiction novel set in 1934. The story is told from the perspectives of three sisters living on a farm in Michigan. Nellie is seven-years-old and has a fantastic imagination and wanders around the farm talking to the animals, space aliens, Pottawatomi Indians, and pirates. Irene is eleven, overconfident and judgmental to a fault, believes she is the smartest student at her school. Seventeen-year-old Flora’s only desire is to marry the neighbor boy. The book starts with Nellie unearthing a dead baby in the back woods while digging for pirate treasure. Consequently, the sisters form a club to solve the mystery of the baby’s origins. But that is only the beginning of many mysteries, intrigues, twists, and turns.”
Read more about Charlotte Whitney and Threads A Depression Era Tale on her website.
Once I began reading Threads A Depression Era Tale, I immediately fell in love with it and couldn’t stop reading. There were even a couple times my husband got up for work in the morning and there I was. Still sitting in my recliner reading. It only took me three days from start to finish. I really love how was written. Each day or part of the story is narrated by all three sisters. They aren’t always together so I though it was really great to get each one of their daily perspectives. Each narration kind of overlaps one another. Since Charlotte had written this book in this way, It really gives the reader a chance to know each character and really understand their personalities. And yes, they each have very different personalities.
The Story Begins
The story begins when Nellie heads down to the “crick” to play with the pollywogs. She’s very observant for a 7 year old as she notices that horses may have been down there recently. That’s also when she discovers an area that looked like it had been dug up. She thinks that maybe there were some pirates down there that buried some treasure so she thought she would dig up the treasure to see what she would find. Instead of treasure, she found a baby that was buried in the backwoods.
She runs back home to tell Ma and Pa about it and so Pa calls the Sheriff. Ma tells the girls she doesn’t want any of them talking about the baby to anyone because she didn’t want any rumors and lies flying around about what might have happened. She didn’t even want them to mention it again in their own home. So the girls decided to form the secret “Sister’s Club” to try to find out what happened on their own.
Throughout the book while the girls tried to solve this mystery, their family had to be on the lookout for horse thieves and keep a watch out for the Gypsies that camped near the fairgrounds. They kept to themselves mostly but they were a group of people that they had to beware of. But maybe some of them weren’t so bad after all. Eventually a couple of other little girls come up missing. Flora, Irene and Nellie weren’t sure if they were connected to the baby or not.
But despite keeping the secret of the baby, rumors eventually started anyway. Poor Flora’s relationship with Henry suffered. During that time period, if a young lady’s reputation is ruined, the rest of their life can be pretty tough and become hard to marry. At this point Flora had had enough of the rumors and needed to get to the bottom of it. Irene ended up sneaking off to find Camp Meeting that was run by a sinister preacher that lead to nowhere. Other leads led to a girl Irene knew in school and the gypsies. Some unexpected twists and turns too and maybe even some unlikely friendships. On top of the rumors, Ma was worried about her own girls after the other two girls went missing.
While the book has some dark elements such as murder, kidnapping, and sexual assault, the overall theme is the healing nature of a community. Helping a neighbor in need, kindness, and hope. Not only would they help a neighbor, they would also help the train riders. The train riders were mostly good men who hopped the train and rode from town to town trying to find work. Because they were looking for work, they had no money or food. But Ma always made sure to give them some food and let them drink from their well even though they had so little.
That was how it was for most farmers. They all had so little for themselves and oftentimes went to bed hungry. Sacrificing their animals to save their farm, or slaughtering them to have enough food. That’s why I loved reading this book. Because no matter how hard things were, no matter how dark things got, overall I was left feeling the warmth and caring these sister’s shared through all their hardships. Not just their family’s hardships, but also their own individual hardships and experiences.
While the main plot of the story was the mystery of the baby, I loved how it was much, much more than that. There were a lot of other experiences and other things that happened throughout the story that didn’t have anything to do with the main plot. As a reader, books that are written that way sometimes makes the main plot become part of the background. But that was not the case here. Charlotte Whitney did an excellent job with always keeping the mystery there while being able to share the experiences of each of these girls.
It was also such a joy to read about the places where Nellie liked to play. When I was growing up, my mom and us kids lived with my grandma. We lived right up the road where my husband and I live with our kids today. Nellie had what she called the “cabin ruins”. We had this big shed that was in ruins and we played in it all the time. We called it the “shed ruins”. There was also another shed where a bunch of old tin sheets and material were kept. We weren’t allowed inside but there was a really good climbing tree right near it. We used to say we were going to the climbing tree by the “tins”. And yes, we also had a “crick” that we used to play at all the time too.
I loved reading the epilogue at the end of Threads A Depression Era Tale. In the epilogue, certain events bring all three sisters back together 40 years later. In it they reminisce about their childhoods and how they grew up – the “wealthy days of poverty and want.” I liked reading this part because it was really nice to see where they ended up going later in their lives.
I highly recommend reading this book. I absolutely loved it. Made me really think about the experiences and people throughout my life that made up the threads of my own life.
Check out Charlotte Whitney’s website to learn more about her and her amazing book, Threads A Depression Era Tale. It’s definitely a must read!
Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post. However, I received free signed book mentioned in this post from Charlotte Whitney for my use and review. All opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own. If you would like to be a sponsor in a giveaway or collaboration with DustinNikki Mommy of Three, please email Nicole Anderson at danderson35 (at) columbus (dot) rr (dot) com.