4 out of 4 stars
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Clara's Way is an intriguing historical fiction novel that shows the life of a determined young woman who has to travel thousands of miles to discover her ambitions and who she really is. Clara is a dedicated nurse who pays home visits and her community heavily depends on her and she has her whole life planned for her including to whom she had to get married. Clara's life is turned around when she gets a missive from her sick older brother, Samuel, who had traveled to work in the Panama Canal and had gotten ill. Clara has to leave her fiance, her family, and her patients in Ohio and makes the life-threatening journey to the Canal to be with her sick brother. Clara fights through seasickness, the death of her brother in the canal, her near-death experience, and fights for the life of the nurses, workers, and doctors in the Panama canal whose lives were threatened by Malaria and Yellow fever. She shows her strength of character through her aggressiveness to provide help to the diseased and through her experiences, she finds her sexuality and her story keeps one on their toes waiting for the next unveiling of historical nuances.
Clara's way is a refreshing read because it provides insight into the life of a nurse in the early 1800s, talks about same-sex relationships, and shows the process of self-discovery and enlightenment. I appreciate how the author finds a way of describing the life of a nurse as it was expected during those times, including how women's opinions were overlooked. Roberta Carr shows the limited choices women were given in society at that time and how it affected their quality of life, especially concerning their sexuality. She also shows the importance of being open to new possibilities, just as Clara saw a possibility of growth and discovery of new methods of medicine in the canal even though the government had given up on getting a cure for the infections in the Canal. Clara's story is a depiction of the importance of strength of character; because of Clara's determination and strength of will, the government eventually buckled and helped the doctors and nurses eradicate yellow vaccine and malaria in the Canal as well as improve the lives of its blue-collar workers. Through the book, we are taken back in history and one can see how far civilization has come and helps one appreciate the struggles underwent in the search for a better and healthier existence.
The book was perfectly edited with great grammar and language. I did not find fault with it except for the ending which was a huge cliffhanger. I would have loved to know whether Clara's love finds her and whether Clara finds the happiness she deserves in the small community.
I found the book refreshing and enjoyable, with the author being well-articulated in her expressions. The storyline is well written and comprehendible, thus making Clara's way a great book to enjoy on a lazy day. I give the book a 4/4 because it took me through an emotional rollercoaster while showing the history of civilization. Also, the book shows same-sex relationships in a time when society was against them, thus making them more real and relatable. Roberta Carr fits religion and love in the story which makes it a more compelling read.
Clara's Way is one that tells the story of love, healing, determination, and family values, therefore, it would be a great book to be read by all. However, I would recommend the book to nurses, doctors, menial laborers, and leaders in society because it depicts the hard work done by these groups in bringing humanity to a world of civility. The book would also fare well with people interested in historical moments such as the events that happened in the Panama Canal.
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