As you probably know, I'm pretty outspoken on the topic of censorship. I believe it's my job and no one else's to decide what my kids should or shouldn't be allowed to read. So when Lena received a copy of Farmer Boy
for her birthday a few weeks ago, of course I had
to stick to my principles and read it first. ;-)
Wow, was it good! I thought I had read all the Laura Ingalls Wilder books when I was a kid, even though I wasn't a huge fan at the time. Apparently I missed this one, though. Whoops!
I was totally unprepared for the magnitude of the emotional response I had to this book. Weeks later, I'm still thinking about it. Just to give you a quick recap, at the end of the book 10yo Almanzo is given the choice of becoming apprentice to a shopkeeper (a nice shopkeeper who likes the boy, has integrity, etc.) or staying home to follow in his father's farmer footsteps. Father advises him that if he becomes a shopkeeper he'll have a nice, soft, cushy life . . . but he'll have to depend on others for the very food on his table and clothes on his back. If he stays a farmer he'll work every day from dawn till dusk, but he'll be beholden to no one. He'll be self-sufficient -- growing, raising, slaughtering, preserving, tanning, milking, weaving, etc., etc. -- producing for himself everything he needs.
I find this independent, self-sufficient, beholden-to-nobody thing extremely compelling. I always have. This is why I love wilderness survival books, especially Clan of the Cave Bear
. That book is stupid in so many ways, but I've practically got it memorized. And there's more than a bit of that in Patrick O'Brian: the ship is self-sufficient. I admire medieval hermits, too.
So, when Almanzo (of course) turned down the apprenticeship offer it was hard not to take it personally. I am so dependent on others. I don't even know how to grow vegetables in my sunny, south-facing back yard. Clearly, Laura Ingalls Wilder would not approve.