Listen. Katie Andrews Potter is an historian. She knows her stuff. She’s also a homeschooler, and we love supporting working homeschoolers, don’t we? When I came across her series, The Wayfaring Sisters, I knew I had to get my hands on it to review it for you. Because just the two things already mentioned are awesome.
For me, a huge draw was that Potter’s books are set in Indiana. And I absolutely love being able to recognize the sites in a book. This one was awesome in that it mentions places over much of the state, and I’ve been to most of them. I at least know where they are. But even if you’re not from Indiana, the historical places in this book are worth knowing about.
On top of all that, this is a genuinely entertaining story written in a voice gentle enough to share with your youngest littles and grown-up enough that your teens will love it, too.
Growing up different
Going Over Home is Maddie Fox’s story. Maddie’s early childhood in modern suburbia is different from that of her friends–her mother is a more avid gardener than most, growing most of what they eat. The family only buys from local farms or farmer’s markets if they can’t grow it in their backyard. They have no television. Maddie has never heard of grandparents, let alone met hers. As she attends the local public school, she begins to realize just how different her family is.
Then a genealogy project at school causes her to question her mother and the response is… worried. Though her mother supplies her with some names, Maddie can tell it is a touchy subject. As technology and modern entertainment take over the Foxes’ lives, the answers to all Maddie’s questions seem to get farther and farther away.
On her first day of college, Maddie meets her new roommate, Olive, a genealogy buff whose last name makes Maddie’s parents cringe. After some amateur sleuthing, the two girls discover a terrible truth: Olive is a direct descendant of Maddie’s. The Foxes came through a time portal when Maddie was very young for reasons unknown, and if Maddie doesn’t go back and marry Henry Yancey, Olive will never exist.
Nothing will ever be the same
What follows is an adventure like no other. Maddie has to find the portal and make it back in time to marry Henry so the entire world doesn’t change. But she also needs to know why her parents came to the future in the first place. And to convince herself that staying in the past is the right thing to do.
Hard to give up TV, cars, and running water. Fortunately, Henry is dreamy. So at least the marriage part won’t be a chore.
The story bounces back and forth between Maddie’s visits to the past and the harrowing present, where someone is trying to prevent her from going back for good and no one can know the truth about her double life. Watching Maddie wrestle with her own feelings is as brilliant as the flashes of the Underground Railroad movement and other views of pioneer life. The question is, will Maddie find the nerve to go back in time for good? And if she does find the nerve, will it be too late?
I particularly loved how the epilogue wrapped around me like a warm hug. Superb bit of story telling there. But that’s all you get. You’ll have to read it to know how it ends.
This is a book for all your littles that explores right and wrong as well as the dangers of changing the past. It would be a good addition to any library, but especially for those of you who are looking for a fictional supplement to 19th century American history.
All I can tell you is I can’t wait to read in Ellie’s story in the second book.
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