3 out of 4 stars
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Maddie’s Chronicle by Daniel O. Stuhlman is a novel for young adults. The story chronicles the life of Maddie, as she travels from Boston to settle in California. She matures, physically and spiritually, as she makes new friends and strives to solve the mystery of an ancient symbol.
Maddie became an orphan when Indians killed her parents. Her aunt and uncle raised her. They moved to California to pursue a job opportunity. They decided to travel by land, across Mexico. On this trip Maddie uses her drawing ability, to capture on paper, several of the unique things she observes. Later, she is able to incorporate some of these sketches into patterns for weaving projects. One drawing, in particular, is a strange symbol that she observed in several different spots. This symbol disturbs some people and motivates Maddie to discover its significance.
The story line also follows Maddie’s growth from a young girl to a woman. Her impulsive behavior and foolish decisions slowly shift to a loving and thoughtful attitude towards others. Several relationships and difficult experiences test her faith in God and in others.
The setting of the story is California, in the 1800s, as it transitions from a nation to a state. The descriptions of the primitive conditions are excellent. There are numerous and diverse groups that populate the new state. Trappers, Mormons, vaqueros, and sailors contribute to the growth of the region. The novel includes the history of the Donner Party. We learn about their disastrous decision to follow an apparent shortcut through the Sierra Pass. This section contains some strong, but historically accurate, descriptions.
I appreciated the character development. Maddie changes from an impulsive adolescent to a caring and thoughtful woman. Her faith and devotion are an example to others. I also thought the dialogues were real and believable.
I enjoyed the love story that emerges when Maddie finds love. The romance is very sweet without providing explicit details. The description of their honeymoon concentrates on the scenery of undeveloped areas of California. I truly appreciated the author’s efforts to keep the romance wholesome.
I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. The historical facts and the story of Maddie blend into a beautiful and enjoyable story. Nevertheless, the book needs further editing. The spelling and formatting errors are too numerous to overlook.
This book is a well-written novel for readers who enjoy American history and romance. It is appropriate for young readers as there are no sex scenes, and only an occasional use of strong language. All readers will enjoy the beautiful romance as they learn about the history of the founding of the West.
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