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Reviewed by Brenda Casto for Readers' Favorite
Far West: The Diary of Eleanor Higgins by Linell Jeppsen takes place when Indians were still fighting for their land and the west was a dangerous place. Sixteen-year-old Nel Higgins knows about danger; her father, Frank, abused her and her siblings daily. After the death of her mother and younger brother, it's up to Nel to protect her younger sister, Annie. When Frank moves them west, it doesn't take long for things to escalate and Nel makes a choice that will have her and Annie running from home in order to survive.
I think if I had to describe Far West: The Diary of Eleanor Higgins in one word it would be "captivating!" When I started reading this book I just couldn't put it down because Linell Jeppsen created characters that came to life and made me need to know how their stories would ultimately play out. Telling the story through the diary entries of Nel was fantastic. I felt like I was inside the heart and mind of this young girl whose emotions and feelings really poured from the pages. I found myself heartbroken at times for her, and rooting her on whenever things would take a turn for the better. She became a living, breathing person within the pages of this story, and while I wanted to know the ending, I hated to say goodbye to her. Speaking of endings, the author kept me on the edge of my seat, wondering what would ultimately happen, and just when I thought I could predict what would happen, she did something totally different, providing a twist that surprised and delighted me.
Along with the character of Nel, there were many other very well developed characters that really kept the momentum of this story moving along. Each one had their own personality and lent elements to the story that really provided for a richly detailed plot. Along with well written characters, the historical aspects really took this story to another level. Ms. Jeppsen made me feel like I had stepped back into a time when there was so much history taking place, from Custer's last stand to women's issues to the introduction of root beer and ketchup; it was those details that made this book such a great read for me. Far West: The Diary of Eleanor Higgins is a coming of age story that really is so much more!