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Review: Pioneer Girl

September 16, 2014

Pioneer Girl

First generation American Lee Lien is forced to move back home after earning a PhD in Literature.  She’s going to work at the restaurant her mother and grandfather own until she finds a job in her field.   Lee’s not thrilled about it – her mother is headstrong and her old country ways are embarrassing at times.

Lee’s brother comes home, steals from their mother, only leaving a pin their mother brought with her from Vietnam.  The pin was left in the family’s Saigon café by an American reporter almost 50 years ago.  Lee does some research and believes the pin must have belonged to Laura Ingalls Wilder’s daughter, Rose.  She digs deeper and, as she relates to the Wilders, she learns a lot about herself and finds herself ready to tackle the next phase of her life.

For some odd reason, I thought Pioneer Girl by Bich Minh Nguyen was a memoir when I first picked it up.  It didn’t take me long to figure out I was wrong.  Instead of a memoir, Pioneer Girl is a fabulous literary mystery and I adored it.

Lee finds herself in a tough spot – she needs to live at home until she can find a job but she finds her mother and her old school ways suffocating.  She can’t figure out why her mother acts the way she does and it is almost enough to drive her crazy.

When she notices the pin her brother leaves behind has a small house engraved on it, she pulls out her beloved copy of These Happy Golden Years to read the description of the pin Almanzo gave Laura.  The description matched the pin she was holding in her hand, causing her to do a flurry of research, learning a lot about herself and her mother along the way.

I thought Pioneer Girl had it all – great characterization, a wonderful story, and fabulous writing.  It’s a smart, clever book that had me googling the Wilders and Little House on the Prairie.  This book is sure to be on my list of favorites for the year!

Review copy provided by Penguin Books.  I am an Indiebound Affiliate.


24 Comments leave one →
  1. September 16, 2014 5:21 am

    Sounds like a great read. I loved Little House on a Prairie when I read it, a book referencing it sounds adorable.

  2. September 16, 2014 6:32 am

    Sounds unusual. I too thought reading your review that it was a memoir.

  3. September 16, 2014 7:49 am

    I have this book in my TBR pile; your review has just made me pull it out and move it to the top.

  4. September 16, 2014 9:17 am

    I’ve had this one sitting on my shelves for a while now and am so glad you posted about it – reminds me that I should read this one sooner rather than later. Sounds like I’m in for quite a treat 😉

  5. Patty permalink
    September 16, 2014 9:53 am

    This sounds delightful!

  6. September 16, 2014 10:06 am

    Oh my gosh, I thought this was a memoir too! Somehow, it sounds more interesting now that I know it’s not, which is weird, but I’ll take it!

  7. September 16, 2014 11:36 am

    This sounds really good, Kathy. I would have thought it was a memoir too! I will have to add this one to my wish list.

  8. September 16, 2014 2:37 pm

    I can tell how much you loved this one!

  9. September 16, 2014 3:07 pm

    Oh, this sounds good!

  10. September 16, 2014 3:58 pm

    Sounds fun and cute 🙂

  11. September 16, 2014 5:22 pm

    As a person with a PhD in Literature that never became much of a career and a person who has lived in childhood books like the Little House on the Prairie Series, I figure I really have to read this one.

  12. September 16, 2014 9:09 pm

    Kathy, I’m glad you enjoyed this literary mystery!

  13. September 16, 2014 10:31 pm

    Wow! From the cover I never would have thought it would be as you described it. I’ll have to look for it now!

  14. September 16, 2014 11:35 pm

    Huh, this is such an interesting mix of subject matter.

    I loved the Little House books back in the day.

  15. September 17, 2014 1:36 am

    lovely, happy sounding review. I also love the cover

  16. September 17, 2014 6:53 am

    This is the first I recall reading about this book. Thanks for your wonderful review. I’m going to add this book to my To Read list.

  17. September 17, 2014 11:24 am

    Oh goodness this book sounds fantastic! Thanks for putting it on my radar.

  18. September 17, 2014 11:40 am

    If it’s one of your favorite books of the year, I want to read it. I thought I knew the Little House books inside and out, but I don’t remember Laura receiving a pin. Now you have me wanting to read Golden Years again too.

  19. September 17, 2014 3:43 pm

    I loved Nguyen’s “Short Girls” so I should definitely pick this up. The book looked familiar to me but I thought it was a memoir too! I’m glad to hear it’s something totally different – I’m looking forward to it even more now!

  20. September 18, 2014 10:34 am

    I want to read this if it’s one of your favorite books this year!!

  21. September 18, 2014 1:31 pm

    Little House (at least the one I read) wasn’t my favorite but I can see myself reading it to my girls when they’re a little older. This sounds fantastic, though! Glad it hit all the high notes for you.

  22. September 21, 2014 1:21 pm

    This book sounds wonderful – I especially like the tie-in to Little House – those books were favorites of mine growing up!

  23. bookingmama permalink
    September 26, 2014 7:54 am

    This sounds fantastic!! Definitely adding it to my must-read list!

  24. September 28, 2014 7:01 pm

    Great to hear this one is as good as everyone is saying. I need to get a copy. thanks for the word!

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