Title: Crooked Paths Straight
Author: Elizabeth Wehman
Series: The Newburg Chronicles, book 2
Major Themes: Michigan, Pioneers
Synopsis: New challenges face the Baker family in their second year in the wilderness of the Michigan Territory.
Because I grew up in Michigan, my interest is piqued every time I see a book set in Michigan. That made Crooked Paths Straight sound very interesting, especially after I read the first book in the series, The Year the Stars Fell. When I read the author’s note at the end of that book, I realized that these books are set within a 2-hour drive of the area I grew up in, and I’ve been through there! I enjoyed reading about the history of that area.
In this book, Hosea’s family have been in the Michigan territory for about nine months, and are settling in. Both Hosea and Sally and their family, and their daughter Betsey and her husband Aaron and their baby, have their own homes now. They are enjoying a peaceful family Christmas celebration when unexpected visitors arrive—and soon life is anything but peaceful. An unhappy woman set on having her own way and making everyone else as miserable as she is, the ever-present fear of the Indians and then sickness going through the Indian villages, and the constant influx of new settlers keeps life interesting for the Baker family. Betsey faces all the challenges and joys of being a wife and mother, and then new factors enter into her life that she didn’t expect. Her sister Caroline finds herself in demand and must choose her future in a way she didn’t expect. Through it all, Hosea’s faith keeps the family strong as he continually reminds them of what God has to say about each situation that comes up.
I wouldn’t consider Crooked Paths Straight one of my top ten books for the year, but I did enjoy it. I am glad that I bought The Year the Stars Fell and read it first, because there was a lot that would not have made sense if I hadn’t. I guess what I enjoyed most about the book was the glimpse into pioneer life in my home area. I enjoyed getting to “see” what my home area may have looked like nearly 200 years ago. I am guessing it was quite similar. One thing is definitely similar—there was a trading post only half a mile from my childhood home. The roof was gone, but the log walls were still there when I was young. The local trading post is an important part of the community’s life in Crooked Paths Straight. If you enjoy history being brought to life, you will quite possibly enjoy this book. I appreciated that romance, while present, was not the main focus of this book. Speaking of the romance, it seemed to me that Caroline was inconsistent. She was eagerly anticipating marriage to a young man, and then, about two chapters later, she was afraid of it, and acting like she had never thought of the possibility. Another incongruity that I noticed was the mention of envelopes, as if they had been bought. At this time in history (1834), all envelopes were handmade.
I received a review copy of this book from CelebrateLit, and these are my honest thoughts about it.
WARNING: Darn is used once, in chapter 17. A kiss is described in chapter 15.
Reading Independently—Ages 15 and Above, Adults