Belinda’s Book Nook Review: The Personal History of Rachel Dupree by Ann Weisgarber

Rachel Dupree

Title: The Personal History of Rachel Dupree
Author: Ann Weisgarber
Copyright: July 26, 2011
Genre: historical fiction, African American history
Format: paperback Pages: 357

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

“An eye-opening look at the little-explored area of a black frontier woman in the American West.” —Chicago Sun-Times

Praised by Alice Walker and many other bestselling writers, The Personal History of Rachel DuPree is an award-winning debut novel with incredible heart about life on the prairie as it’s rarely been seen. Reminiscent of The Color Purple, as well as the frontier novels of Laura Ingalls Wilder and Willa Cather, it opens a window on the little-known history of African American homesteaders and gives voice to an extraordinary heroine who embodies the spirit that built America.

My Thoughts on The Personal History of Rachel Dupree:

I bought this book from Goodreads and was intrigued by the description. I knew nothing of black homesteaders.  I always enjoy historical fiction for teaching me while I enjoy the journey rather than a straight out history book.  So after finishing my last book, I thought I would pick a small book to fit in before the year ends and this book fit the bill.

The story focuses on Rachel who is living with her parents in the beginning of the story and cleaning house for a well to do African American woman.  I struggled with the mindset of her employer in how she treated Rachel and all of her domestic staff. It’s strange how she sees them “beneath” her despite that during this time period, African American’s aren’t treated well by many whites.  So for her to step on her staff’s pride unnerved me a bit.  There wasn’t much opportunities for men or women of color at this time. Either the slaughter house or joining the military for men and domestic work for the women.

I felt the author did a great job bringing you into the world of Rachel and seeing how her logic propelled her into to marriage and become a frontier women. I think she had good character development and the secondary characters were interesting too.

My heart ached often while reading this book because of the predicaments Rachel continually finds herself in and having no one to help her work through them was so sad.  The relations between the Native Americans in this book also saddened me. Of course I have the benefit of time, to be able to reflect and see the devastation the Natives’s faced when they were invaded. I know they were the original inhabitants of this country. But aI am deeply saddened by the way this book portrays the relationship between African Americans and Native Americans.  I don’t doubt it, I just don’t like it.

Overall, I found this to be a good book and fast read. I feel it’s worth the read to learn a little more about American history.

I gave this book 4 butterflies!



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