I needed a western for my summer reading challenge at the library. It is a not a genre I know anything about. Especially in books. Movies I might have a better shot at it but books? Not really my genre. So I spoke to my resident book guru and she reminded me of a book she’d recommended to me awhile back, Cathleen Davitt Bell’s Little Blog on the Prairie. It is a young adult book about technologically wired 14 year old Genevieve whose mother drags the family to Camp Frontier for their summer vacation. Camp Frontier is permanently stuck in 1890 – the cell phones, jeans and iPods are confiscated on arrival, each family is assigned a plot of land and works the farm for the summer. You can imagine Gen’s enthusiasm. But, the girl has a plan, she sneaks her cell phone into the camp and sends texts to her best friends about what she’s doing, what the fellow campers are like and how much she is learning to loathe the camp owners’ daughter. Texts her friend turns around and uses to create a blog…that goes viral. Just when Gen is thinking there might be more to this frontier life than she first realized, the 21st century invades and Gen has to figure out how to salvage what was becoming the best vacation ever.
So, I kind of adored Gen, As the FYA girls say, she earned my BFF charm full stop. She is funny and smart and so not like who I was at all at 14 (the girl is a soccer player extraordinaire – so not me). But I was a girl who depended on my electronics and still do. I love being connected constantly, not to mention my music, photos, television shows, they are all digital, all on my computer. I love to read as much as the next girl but my computer, well, he’s kind of my best friend (I know, sad really but there it is). As a 14 year old, I was less wired I’ll admit but if my mother had tried to pull this on me? I would not have been a happy camper. Luckily, my mother loathes camping with everything in her so my summer vacations as a kid were to Toronto, Montreal, Cedar Point in Ohio. Camping was something Mom put her foot down about when I was around 9 or 10. But Camp Frontier? No, just no. Not my thing. I love learning about history, reading about it, watching historical films etc. but I have absolutely no desire to live in it. I might have been born in the wrong country (Canada or Great Britain, any time you wish to adopt me, I’m your girl), but the wrong century? No, I’m right where I belong here. And this book didn’t change my mind in the least. Gen and her family may have found it fun and works for them but I will stick to my Disney cruises thank you very much.
However, I now know what goes into churning butter, doing laundry without a washer and dryer and how one goes about trying to bake with lard. I got a milking lesson, discovered that sometimes you can mistake a rooster for a hen and that window coverings to keep out the bugs is something we hadn’t gotten around to yet in 1890. So, Bell did a great job of balancing the story of Gen and her family against the historical activities they found themselves doing. Perhaps not a strict Western but a western for the 21st century. Just the kind I like.