Friday, September 2, 2016

Frontier Grit

Frontier Grit by Marianne Monson
Shadow Mountain Publishing: 9/6/16
eBook review copy; 208 pages
ISBN-13: 9781629722276

Frontier Grit: The Unlikely True Stories of Daring Pioneer Women by Marianne Monson is a recommended collection featuring the story of twelve women who were pioneers.

The women featured in each short chapter are:
Nellie Cashman: Gold Rush “Boomer”; a nurse, businesswoman and gold prospector.
Aunt Clara Brown: a former slave who became an accomplished and beloved community leader.
Abigail Scott Duniway: Oregon Trail suffragette; "Abigail burned at these injustices. Women contributed economically, were held accountable for debts, but remained powerless to own property or manage their own incomes."
MarĂ­a Amparo Ruiz de Burton: The first Mexican-American novelist.
Luzena Stanley Wilson: Ever-resourceful; a gold-rush entrepreneur.
Mother Jones: She could not be silenced; a school teacher who became a labor activist and community organizer. "For over fifty years, Mary traveled the country speaking on behalf of child workers, steelworkers, deported Mexican workers, and coal miners. She once declared to a judge, 'My address is wherever there is a fight against oppression. . . . My address is like my shoes: it travels with me.'
Zitkala-Sa: “Red Bird”; a Sioux writer, editor, musician, teacher, and activist
Mary Hallock Foote: Mining town author and illustrator. Wallace Stegner was captivated by Mary’s story and his 1972 Pulitzer Prize winning novel, Angle of Repose, was based on her life.
Martha Hughes Cannon: Frontier doctor, state senator, polygamist, refugee, and women’s rights activist.
Donaldina Cameron: The Most Loved and Feared Woman in Chinatown. Donaldina Cameron rescued thousands of girls from sex trafficking rings, and then raised them as her own daughters.
Charley Parkhurst: Most celebrated stagecoach driver in the west; she lived her life as a man.
Makaopiopio: The Spirit of Aloha; one of the first Hawaiian immigrants to settle the colony of Iosepa.

Frontier Grit is a well-researched, easy to read summation of the lives of these 12 women. Each chapter opens with a picture of the woman and a quote. As is my wont for documentation, I appreciate that Monson includes at the end of each chapter a list of books to consult for more information and that she has footnoted all of her resources. This will be a good resource for students because it will be easy to understand and is concise.

That said, it does have a few drawbacks. I truly wish Monson had restrained herself from adding her own personal thoughts and commentary at the end of each chapter. Surely each woman's life should speak for itself and different readers will likely have diverse lessons they need to learn from each woman's life. I am also beginning to detest the word "grit" which is currently being overused in a wide variety of venues. Enough with your grit everyone. Please look for a more deliberate and appropriate word to reflect your presentation, theories, and opinions. 

Disclosure: My advanced reading copy was courtesy of the publisher for review purposes.

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