By Caroline Starr Rose
225 pages written in verse
What is it like to love words but not able to gain command over them? May wants to be a teacher, but she is not be able to stand and read on command in her one room school house where memorization and recitation are key. What is it like to be asked to help your family by leaving home the only place you feel truly safe? That is what May does. She moves to the next sod house to be a companion and housekeeper to the new wife who isn’t used to the hardships and loneliness of prairie living. Not only is May alone, but Mrs. Oblinger seems to despise her as much as the sod walls, dirt floor and endless nothingness out the door.
After being forced to sit in the front row with the little kids because she can’t read well, May is taken from school and her dream of being a teacher. Schooling seems useless for her and she is asked to move to the neighboring homestead. May agrees to try this new life for six month. At Christmas her father will check on her to see how it is going. Isolated from her family and neighbors, the unthinkable happens. She is abandoned – totally alone and then she is trapped in the soddy by a snowstorm that completely covers the house.
May might not be able to read or recite from her reader, but she is an amazing person – strong, determined, resourceful and knowledgeable. Having students in may classroom who worked as hard as May does would be a joy. I wish we could all be so inspired and follow lead through difficulty and failure to achieve our goals.
I wonder how thing will go for May as her story continues. I hope she find the courage and support to achieve her dreams. Certainly with her as a teacher, no child would feel the sting of humiliation and shame in that room.