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Letters to Juniper Kindle Edition
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Set in rural Idaho, Sarah introduces us to her isolated world. At twelve, her circumstances couldn't be more different than that of her peers. Sarah's mother is dead. Her father and step-mother now raise Sarah and her siblings on a farm straight out of the 1800s. There's no electricity, no running water. Sarah's father lives and breathes by the supreme law of Yashua. Strict adherence to these laws are required. The reader feels instant sympathy for Sarah who must write secret letters by candlelight, cook meals for her three younger brothers and, worst of all, spend days in the birthing shed during her menstrual cycle.
Then her father is arrested by Federal Agents for dealing in illegal firearms. The Feds want Sarah's father as an informant on a group of Neo-Nazis. When her father refuses, their world begins to unravel.
The story is told through a series of heart-felt, emotional letters from Sarah to her long lost friend Juniper who she vaguely remembers from her life in Florida. Though I sometime found myself longing for more depth of setting description than a letter could provide, the letters themselves touched me. We are drawn in to Sarah's world by the sympathy we feel for her plight and we are hooked through the end to find out what becomes of her.
Tibbetts does a thorough and thought-provoking job of taking us into the perilous life of a girl similar to those that were trapped at Waco or under Warren Jeff's tyrannical reign. Anyone who was drawn to those children's stories (who watched with baited breath as they surrounded the Branch Davidians or took the Fundamentalist Latter-Day Saints children into custody) will sympathize with Sarah. After all, she's just a twelve year old girl who glows after her first kiss and nearly dies of embarrassment when her period is mentioned in front of her boyfriend. Yet, she finds herself caught up in very adult situations that lead to very adult consequences. The ending is unexpected and masterfully done, as well.
My only critique would be that there were moments where I found some of the dialog hollow and some of the law enforcement procedures lacking depth. Those things fall to the wayside as you flip pages, longing to uncover what will become of Sarah and her family.
Suitable for mature middle-school and above for some tactful but violent scenes, I would recommend this book for inquisitive young minds and older minds as well. Though it is not necessarily historical, it helps us better understand parts of our history that have baffled many of us for decades.
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The stepmother is always at odds with Sarah and Sarah finds escape in her diary entries to Juniper.
Life is difficult and she's a virtual prisoner, being locked up monthly. She befriends a boy but she's not too sure of him. After a shootout, she is immensely surprised and pleased.
I didn't see that coming is what I thought!
"Letters to Juniper" is Sarah Smith's story as told via her letters to a long ago best friend named Juniper. Poor Sarah has to endure life as a recluse because this is what her father has decided. I cannot imagine being away from everyone in what seems to be the middle of nowhere where your father and stepmother are the people who tell you how things are and how they are meant to be. Sarah only knows what she sees and what she is told by those who shelter her from the big wide world. She doesn't know that her father and stepmother are mad and delusional, she doesn't know the way they behave would be considered wrong and unacceptable by most people who do not live within the compound.
I really felt sorry for the children. Not only for the immediate storyline but thinking beyond that, the repercussions this kind of seclusion can have on children. Of course if they stay in the compound for the rest of their lives they won't know any different but if a child were to leave the compound I can't help thinking how he/she would find the world outside. I imagine it would be quite daunting and he/she probably wouldn't know how to act appropriately around people. It's a scary thought.
Getting back to Sarah though I felt sadness for her and her lost memories. Sarah's few memories of her past give her something to cling to and Juniper gives her someone she can confide in. I imagine Sarah might feel she doesn't have much of a voice around the household hence the decision to start writing to Juniper and free her thoughts and feelings. Sarah doesn't remember a lot from her past but what she does remember she holds on to - the rest of her life back then before the death of her mother and the move to the compound seems so long ago and so distant it's hard to believe it occurred. Life is normal as far as Sarah is concerned, although I beg to differ. I think it's absurd that your daughter has to be locked up in a shed and not allowed to come out while she is menstruating. Who made up that rule?!
These emotions I felt whilst reading, and feeling now as I am typing up this review, show that Peggy Tibbetts is a good writer, one who is able to convey the emotions of a 12-year-old girl and also cause the reader to feel emotions about the deeper issues, i.e. separatism. I believe this could be a good book to read for English in the early years of high school, perhaps even late years of primary school. There are quite a few topics to discuss and I think the discussion would be enriched by having school-aged participants. It would be great to hear different opinions. As an adult I felt mad at the parents. I wonder if children would feel the same way or if their main concern would be something else? Interesting.
All in all, I loved the way this story was presented in the form of letters, it gave it a personal touch. I felt like I was getting to know Sarah on a personal level, that I knew what she was thinking and how she was really feeling. Oh, and I loved the ending!
Many thanks to Peggy Tibbetts for providing me with a copy of `Letters to Juniper' - thanks, Peggy!
Most recent customer reviews
This book is classed as young adult or middle school fiction since the main character and the language is that of a 12 year old; however I found myself...Read more
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