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Book Review

This book has been reviewed by Focus on the Family Thriving Family, a marriage and parenting magazine.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

In 1890s Cripple Creek, Colo., Mary McHugh's ideal life is shattered when her father, Daniel, loses his leg in a mining accident. Following the accident, Daniel, once jubilant and the life of the family, becomes depressed and unresponsive to Mary and her mother. As Daniel's emotional state continues to deteriorate, Mary and her mother are challenged to find ways to provide financially for their family while encouraging Daniel. Mary's mother takes in laundry, and Mary gets baby-sitting jobs. Daniel is further discouraged when the mining company does not offer him a desk job after his recovery.

Mary is determined her father will be happy again and the family will remain in their home in Cripple Creek. She tries to encourage Daniel to return to his hobby of carving wooden figurines or “reminders,” as he refers to them. The carvings represent happy memories that the family has spent together. Mr. Brown, a store owner, sees one of the carvings that Mary has while she is shopping at his store. He admires it, offers to buy it from her and wants to sell it at the store. Mary initially declines to sell her cherished carving, but she goes home and persists in her request to her father to start his carving hobby again.

Mary's patience and persistence pay off when Daniel begins carving again. Mary secretly sells some of the figurines to Mr. Brown. Mary's actions help her father discover a new way to provide for his family, and they are able to remain in their home.

Christian Beliefs

Church attendance is mentioned.

Other Belief Systems


Authority Roles

Mary's mother and father are kind and loving. Immediately after the accident, Mary's Aunt Hattie takes care of her while her mother is away tending to Mary's father. As Daniel becomes overwhelmed by his depression that follows the accident, Mary and her mother take on more responsibility in the home.




The book mentions the mother and father kissing. Mary mentions walking past the painted-ladies' house and closing her eyes so she wouldn't get a glimpse of something or someone she didn't want to see.

Discussion Topics

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Additional Comments/Notes

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Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

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