Monday, July 04, 2011


THE YEAR WE WERE FAMOUS, by Carole Estby Dagg (Clarion/HMH 2011)(12+).  It's 1896, and seventeen-year-old Clara Estby and her mother Helga need to raise a lot of money fast -- to prevent foreclosure on the family farm.  Inspired by the intrepid Nellie Bly, they hatch a scheme to walk across the United States, from Spokane to New York City.  If they make it by the seven month deadline, a mysterious benefactor will pay them $10,000 and publish the account of their journey as a book.

En route, the mother-daughter pair encounters hardships and dangers and finds out more than a little bit about themselves and each other.

Based on the true story of the author's great-aunt and great-grandmother, THE YEAR WE WERE FAMOUS is a satisfying and thoroughly fascinating adventure road-trip.  Dagg offers a likeable protagonist and relationships that feel real in their complexity, while compellingly evoking the atmosphere of the era of William Jennings Bryan and William McKinley.

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