I admit it, I am a bit of a history buff, especially American history. Whenever I visit a place, I try to discover something about its past, how it came to be and what shaped it into what it is today. I immediately felt that Dianne Fallon must be a kindred spirit when I picked up this book and read of her love of Little House on the Prairie!
In Pioneer on a Mountain Bike, Fallon tells the tale of an eight day bike ride she made from New York to Maine after graduating from college. What makes the book special is that, while telling one story, she is also telling another—that of the rich past of the areas she travels through. In the first chapter, the author discusses the fact that somehow textbooks seem to make history (which is rich, exciting, and complex) seem boring and dry. She then sets out to bring it alive for her readers, and does a wonderful job of it.
Fallon's writing style is clear, engaging, and often humorous. She writes of the juxtaposition of past and present very well, helping the reader to feel history even while reading about the present day. Historical characters become real, even if she only quotes a sentence from an old book concerning them, when she shares her questions about them and what can be read between the lines. I did find myself skimming once in awhile when the more technical aspects of land ownership or similar things were being discussed, but overall I found this to be a very good read, appealing to my love of travel and history. My teenagers are reading it now, and from the amount of time they spend with their noses stuck in the pages, I suspect they agree with my thumbs up for this interesting, engaging book!
Dianne lives and writes in Kittery Point, Maine, with her husband, son, two cats, and a series of expiring beta-fish. She is a professor of English at York County Community College. Visit her website.
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