Thursday, May 31, 2012

Winter Wheat by Mildred Walker

Let me first say that some of the charm of this book for me was not only that it was published in 1944 (during WWII), but that the copy I had in my hands actually dated from that time and included a note in the front stating “This book is manufactured under wartime conditions in conformity with all government regulations controlling the use of paper and other materials.”

Ellen Webb is a 18 year-old woman leaving her family’s dry-land wheat farm in Montana for the first time to attend college in Minneapolis.  When she returns at the end of the school year she begins to see her beloved farm, parents and town through different eyes.  She thinks that what she is seeing is the ‘truth’, but is it, or is it she that has changed.

 Some quotes from the book. This is about the end of harvest:

"like a quiet day after a whole week of wind. I mean that wind that blows dirt into your eyes and hair and between your teeth and roars in your ears after you've gone inside."

"I hadn't meant to fall in love so soon, but there's nothing you can do about it. It's like planning to seed in April and then having it come off so warm in March that the earth is ready."

“We get mad, sure! Like ice an' snow an' thunder an' lightning storm, but they don't hurt the wheat down in the ground any.”

“The words came so fast they seemed to roll down hill. Nobody ever calls it all that; it's just spring wheat, but I like the words. They heap up and make a picture of a spring that's slow to come, when the ground stays frozen late into March and the air is raw, and the skies are sulky and dark”

It is a lovely story of learning that one’s parents are human, of having one’s heart broken, of other’s judgments and being disappointed with what life has to hand to you but making the best of it.  And the symbolism of the winter wheat!  Sigh!  eautiful!
Loved it!  A must read!

5 stars (Rated PG – just a few adult-ish situations)

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