Author: Amy Timberlake.
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Narrative style: First person narrative by Georgie Burkhardt.
One Came Home by Amy Timberlake is primarily about two sisters. One(Agatha) gone missing only to be returned as a battered, crippled, lifeless body and the other(Georgie), the crusader, who refuses to accept the body as her sister’s and thus sets out on a quest to find and bring her back. The novel is set in 1871 in Wisconsin when the now extinct wild pigeons were in abundance. Why I suddenly talk of pigeons is because they are part of the story as much as the other characters. The novel opens with Agatha’s funeral and Georgie’s reflections and recollection of some of the times before Agatha ran off. We come across Agatha as strong-willed, ambitious and intelligent and industrious.
“… It was no surprise that Agatha wanted to study the natural sciences, but I’d never thought that meant more than reading books and rambling through the woods to observe and sketch. I’d never considered that she’d want to learn from a teacher, or to formalize it with an official piece of paper. It was a lot of efforts and for what? I t would lead to work. Grandfather Bolte was right.
That she has enough money to go to university for one year was another thing altogether. Agatha was good at making money. She gave tours to ladies wanting to explore the river and its caves, and she sold seed and seedling in our store.
But as the novel progresses she becomes a mere antecedent for revelation of Georgie’s tamed strengths.
The cougar and I eyed one another for a long moment. I gave that animal my meanest stare.
And then – I swear- that cat lay down. Right there in the middle of the road, it lay down like it may take a nap. Like a big old barn tomcat. A moment later it got up and walked off the road.
That made me mad. After all that – after it crouched down and made my heart rattle against the ribs-the cougar walks? I found a spoon and hurled it at that cat. I said things loudly that I don’t care to repeat.
Mind you the above encounter is between a cougar and a 13-year-old.
Georgie takes off on an adventurous trip to seek her sister equipped with a Mule Long ears, a book The prairie Traveler: Handbook for Overland Expedition, a springfield, and five Bechtler gold coins. The journey itself is quite a sight, sight because the author has made use of some magnificent imagery. Georgie’s encounter with cougar and scenes with wild pigeons are a few of them. Mysteries unravel with her progressing journey. It doesn’t matter if the mystery isn’t stimulating enough, the writing style will surely keep you hooked.
Even though the novel belongs to Georgie, hands down, the other characters are strong enough so you don’t lose their presence. The authoritative Grandfather Bolte, a heavy-hearted mother, a peppery Billy McCabe, a mellow Mr Benjamin Olmstead, an iron-jawed Mrs Garrow and many such.
Writing any further might increase my chances of divulging too much information therefore I would just wind up the review with the obvious.
What turned me on: The novel’s successful weaving together adventure and mystery without losing the basic plot.
What turned me off: Yes there were a few things that put me off, but they are insignificant and I can let them be.
VERDICT: If you want a Young Adult fiction with an unique set up and with strong independent women characters then this is the book to read.