Being that today is Thanksgiving, I thought my readers deserved a... Thanksgiving-related book review. :)
Almost Home: A Story Based on the Life of the Mayflower's Mary Chilton
By Wendy Lawton
Mary Chilton was but thirteen years old when she traveled with her parents on the Mayflower to the New World, leaving behind two sisters and many friends in Leiden, Holland. Mary befriends Constance Hopkins, and together with Elizabeth Tilley (a friend of Mary's who also came from Leiden), they become an almost inseperable trio. But stormy clouds are on the horizon. Even after landing in the New World, Mary's world is still unsteady when both her parents die of the sickness that killed nearly half of the Pilgrims that first winter. Through all of this hardship, Mary's faith in God is amazing, and she knows that He will bring her to a place that she can someday call "home."
Oh, this is such a good book! Like I said in my plot summary, Mary Chilton's faith in God is amazing--she almost never wavers. It's truly an encouraging book to read, for if she can have faith in seemingly the hardest of conditions, how can we not have faith?
I pull this book out about a week before Thanksgiving every year and read through it again--that's how much I love the story. From the first day I picked it up, I refused to put it down. It's a great example of historical fiction (which is probably my favorite type of book) because many of the characters, like Mary Chilton, Elizabeth Tilley, and Constance Hopkins were ACTUAL passengers on the Mayflower. This was an element that I really enjoyed, because years ago I read the Dear America book about the Pilgrims (A Journey to the New World: The Diary of Remember Patience Whipple), and was sadly disappointed to learn that "Mem" (Remember) did not really exist. When I started reading Almost Home, I had already heard of and read about the Hopkins family, and so it was a delightful surprise to learn that they played a role in this book as well. (Ironicly, my mother was pregnant on Thanksgiving Day two years in a row, and so she always played "Mrs. Hopkins". :)
When reading this book, I often have this feeling of the amazing strength of the Pilgrims. They traveled out into the middle of nowhere, pushing through many trials, because of their faith. Any weaker Christian could think, "Oh, I'll just listen to the king of England. I'd rather do that than experience such hardship." But the Pilgrims didn't! And where would we be if they had not traveled across the Atlantic Ocean to the New World? Would we still be in England, or would we be one of the immigrants who traveled to America a couple hundred years later? It really makes me think. By listening or not listening to God, not only are we affecting the outcome of our own lives, but the outcome of many other lives in future generations.
Sadly, many children in public school are taught nowadays that the first Thanksgiving was no more than the Pilgrims inviting their Indian friends over for dinner to thank them for helping them when they were starving. But it is SO much more! The first Thanksgiving was a thanksgiving to the LORD, in which the Pilgrims thanked Him for seeing them through in this new land and for never leaving them or forsaking them. It was a thanksgiving to the LORD for sending the Indians to help them. See the difference?
I'd like to challenge all of you, between cooking and having fun with family, to sit down sometime today and say a prayer of thanksgiving for all that God has done for our country.
A BIT O' READING FOR THE DAY
"I don't know where I belong, but someday--if it please the Lord--let me have a house to scrub. Someday, let me have a plot of land for planting. And someday let me unpack our linens and smooth out the wrinkles and lay them in a press. Someday... As Elder Brewster continued to talk with her father, she silently prayed one last request--And please, give me room in that someday garden to tuck in a flower or two. Flowers meant you planned to stay."