This month I read Heartland by Sarah Smarsh, a book that’s a National Book Award Finalist. It’s classified as non-fiction but reads more like a story than a lot of fiction works out there. Yes, I recommend this one with 4 out of 5 stars.
Granted, as a girl from a small town in Kansas, I could identify with almost everything she talked about when she described life on a farm. On many pages I had a hard time separating the description of her life from mine. Small details jumped out at me simply because I’d say in my mind, “Yup, same.”
Aside from those similarities, she described the lives, and life-choices, of people who struggled to keep family farms. Some might not like her commentary, but she told the truth. The fairy-tale ideal of a farmer or rancher doesn’t exist. The life is hard. Luck plays an important role. Money is always a concern. And policies that seem good for the whole don’t always help those who work hard to feed our nation.
She included a thread to tie the story together, a personal discussion with an unborn child. While I can understand the literary element, I didn’t appreciate it as a reader. Too many times the switch out of her story to that discussion jarred me. It took effort to get back into the story, and some may not even try to do so once that happens.
So, while the style and subject matter might not resonate with some, I can say that she gave an honest account of life in Nowhereville, Kansas. Take some time to see how people in the “fly-over” states live.
Ad Astra Per Aspera