It sure has been a while since our last visit. Almost a year, in fact.
It's not that I have forgotten about you. I would have fleeting thoughts every now and then about writing something, but then I'd forget before I actually sat down and did anything, and the cycle repeated a couple of months later.
Then, today, something awesome happened. You know how just about everyone says they do their best thinking in the shower? Well, that's not me... until today. Although, I wouldn't call what happened 'thinking.' It was more of a mild epiphany.
There I was, taking a quick shower after the gym, and I was thinking about how I wanted to wrap up in a blanket and read all night. Then it hit me-- you should write book reviews about the books you're reading!
You see, I have this laundry list of books that I've been meaning to read, and only recently did I actually start getting into it. I absolutely love reading, but it's hard to find the down time to do it. But, I just decided that I would grab a book and take it with me everywhere I go, and every time I had a few spare minutes, I would read.
So, that's what I did.
And here I am! I've been reading some pretty great books, and I want to share them all with you as I finish them. Now, although I write just about every day at work, I have never done a book review. Like ever. So, don't set your expectations too high as I figure out how to do this. And keep in mind that these reviews are by no means professional or endorsed. It's simply me blurting out my thoughts about these books I'm reading.
So, without further ado, let's get started!
Follow the River, by James Alexander Thom
This book spares to time before jumping into the story. While the entire book is a captivating story and excellent history lesson, I must warn you that it can get quite graphic. Thom begins the story by jumping into the Shawnee's attack right in the first chapter... and he gets quite detailed about how some of the settlers were killed.
I'm not going to lie- as I read this first chapter, I wondered if I'd be able to make it through this book. I even put it away for a few days because I just felt icky about the incredible imagery that Thom provides. Eventually, though, I picked the book back up and kept reading. That first chapter is by far the most graphic, and there are only a few short instances throughout the rest of book where Thom gets a little extra descriptive.
Now, my goal is to not give anything away in case you choose to go read the book yourself. But, in a nutshell, about half of the story talks of Mary's capture and journey back to the Shawnee village, where she stays for a short time. The other half of the book talks of her escape and journey through one thousand miles of wilderness in early winter as she tries to find her way back home.
As I read this book, and as I reflect on the story, I am simply in awe of this woman. I've often wondered if I would have made it as an early colonist or pioneer. I don't think I would have. Yet here was this woman, captured only a few days before giving birth to her third child, who faced her worst nightmare yet still resolved to be the source of strength for the small band of prisoners. How she did it, I don't know, but it truly is amazing.
During the story, every ounce of Mary's emotions are twisted and torn apart. She faces the death of loved ones and friends. She faces the constant terror of upsetting her captors to the point where they would harm her, or worse, her children. She faces the struggle of being spared harm because of the Indian chief's favor towards her yet being despised by her fellow prisoners because of it. She faces the conflict of occasionally seeing the Indian chief as an actual human being instead of the man who ordered the massacre of her village. She faces and clings to the hope that her husband was not found during the attack, and the fact that she is coming back him. She faces the mental struggle of wanting to die because of physical pain and starvation, yet persuading herself to keep going one more night. She faces the life-crushing anxiety of wondering if she went the wrong way. She faces the degradation of being sold as property and the fear that her new owner would try to force himself upon her. She faces the agonizing separation from her children. She faces the terror of fighting for her life with the one she most trusted in her time of need. She faces the indescribable relief that comes from finding her way back home. She faces the uncomfortable reunion with her husband as a woman who no longer looks like the one he married.
I have never once faced anything even remotely close to what Mary Ingles faced so many years ago, but Thom's portrays her thoughts and journey with such skill that you can empathize and almost feel all that this woman feels throughout her incredible journey.
If you are looking for an inspiring tale of courage, heartache, and survival, Follow the River is it.