by Dawn Wink

Pronghorn Press, 2013. ISBN 978-1-932-63697-0.
Reviewed by Tiffany Benton
Posted on 07/03/2014

Fiction: Historical

"The beauty. The bitterness. Not a land of mediocrity, but of stunning beauty and brute force. Any living thing that can't survive and appreciate both, will find little to love or live for on the plains." So writes Dawn Wink in her beautifully crafted novel Meadowlark.

Meadowlark is the story of Grace, who in 1911 moves to a farm on the South Dakota plains with her new husband Tom. At 16, Grace embarks on this adventure full of hopes and dreams of a life full of love and joy.

I was captivated by the author's descriptions of the plains of South Dakota. Her words so clearly describe the curves of the land, the powerful forces of nature, and the vastness of the wide open spaces. As I read, I could almost feel the prairie winds howl through and around her sentences. Grace's life mirrors the intensity of the land. From the very first page we see that she will be challenged to survive with her spirit intact. Luckily, she meets two women, a doctor and a Lakota Indian widow. The three share a strong and beautiful friendship that helps them face the harsh realities that come with life as a pioneer woman.

Many times I was hesitant to pick up this book and find out what almost unbearable struggle Grace would be facing. But Dawn Wink has created in her heroine an amazing sense of strength, courage and fortitude, much like that of the prairie. And so Grace lives and learns. She writes in her journal, "Women's tears brought more water to the parched earth than any summer thunderstorms or winter snows ever did. Women nourish these plains with tears and blood."

Meadowlark is based on the true story of Dawn Wink's great grandmother, Grace. Her family still ranches the prairie farm where Grace lived. Stories of Grace's life were part of the author's childhood and this book came from those memories.

Read an excerpt from this book.

Dawn Wink is a writer and educator. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Teacher Education at Santa Fe Community College. Ms. Wink co-wrote Teaching Passionately: What's Love Got To Do With It? with Joan Wink (Pearson, 2004). Ms. Wink lives with her family in Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA. Visit her website.

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