This week,I have been reading books by Gary Paulsen. I am fascinated by the story he tells of his childhood during WWII, in the books Cook Camp, Alida's Song, The Quilt, and Harris and Me. These books are fictional, but I think also autobiographical. His grandmother was an immigrant from Norway, and she brought him into her life among other Norweigan Americans at the edge of the prairie. It is amazing in the books that many of the farmers are still using work horses, and the homes have no electricity or running water. He discusses the ways that the war tore apart his family - his father left to fight, his mother got bored and got involved with bad men, they drank too much, etc.
But his grandmother was a steadying influence, she took care of him on several occasions when his mother couldn't, and showed him a life away from the city where families worked long and hard to survive, but life was full of adventure and love.
I especially enjoyed The Quilt. It tells of a summer with his grandmother, when they go help a distand cousin who is having a baby while her husband is away fighting in the Pacific. Many women in the area come to help with the baby. It is a sweet story about family.
I wish I could walk a couple of miles to my sister's house, and help cook and wash laundry when her baby comes.