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Crossing the Tracks: 06/29/18

Crossing the Tracks

Crossing the Tracks by Barbara Stuber is historical fiction set rural Missouri in the heyday of the model T. As her father is set to re-marry, Iris is hired out to work as a housekeeper to a country doctor and his aged mother. Iris is understandably furious and sullen about the whole thing, knowing full well that she is qualified to run one of her father's shoe stores instead. But he wants her out of sight and out of mind so that he can move on with his life with no reminders of his first wife.

Iris's first encounter with her new employer is a dark and dusty house. She begins to imagine the worse — a near corpse of a woman trapped in her living room. Instead as soon as she's instructed to open the curtains, she meets a feisty, independently minded woman, who though clearly old, isn't frail or near death.

Crossing the Tracks settles into a tale of family is the people you chose, not the ones you're born to. The old woman teaches her how to manage a house and a farm. The doctor teaches her how to drive.

The tale of Iris's growth into a self reliant person is spun in threads taken from the Persephone myth as well as road not taken road narrative. At Iris feels trapped in a far away, dusty, near-dead place that she doesn't know and doesn't want to know. As time passes, she grows to love her employers as a family she has been denied at home.

On the road narrative spectrum it progresses through:

Act I Act II Act III
family, home, railroad orphan, rural, railroad privileged, home, railroad

I read the book as part of my road narrative project and I will probably need to re-read it more closely. My initial live blog of favorite quotes is on Tumblr.

Her second novel is Girl in Reverse (2014).

Five stars

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