We had a great family vacation this summer. While staying at YMCA of the Rockies at Estes Park, Colorado, I discovered the Maude Jellison Library (see photo below), which is conveniently located next to the main Lodge and hub of YMCA activities. I wasn’t very jiggy about the books I packed for the trip, so I was delighted to discover a great library with a nice porch for reading and antlered friends who stopped by every night to watch the tourists.
One of my many happy discoveries in the Maude Jellison Library was a “Colorado Authors” and a “Colorado Travel” section. I found a couple new books by Sandra Dallas I didn’t know about, including my favorite book from the trip, The Diary of Mattie Spenser. Mattie Spenser is a young girl from Southern Iowa who marries and moves to the plains of Eastern Colorado as a homesteader. Dallas’ research is meticulous and she uses this historical foundation to weave a story with a lovable character who faces extreme adversity while trying to start a new life in Colorado.
When I returned home I picked up Dallas’ new book, True Sisters. This book begins in Iowa City and is a fictional chronicle of the Martin Company of the Mormon Handcart Pioneers. Sandra Dallas brings the fictional characters to life, giving a good sense of the challenges faced by the Mormon emigrants on their 1,300 mile journey from Iowa City to Salt Lake City. True Sisters focuses on four women and their individual stories of determination, faith, heartbreak, and friendship. I enjoyed learning more about Iowa City in 1856 as well as the Mormon Handcart Park near Hawkeye Apartments. The real-life story of the Martin Company is tragic (nearly 25% of the people who departed from Iowa City died on the journey due to disease, starvation, accidents, and extreme weather conditions); however, Dallas contrasts the tragedy with the personal stories of determination and kindness.