The Cabin Faced West


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Year Published

Book Review

This book has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine.

Plot Summary

Ten-year-old Ann Hamilton misses life in Gettysburg. Her family now lives in the woods of Western Pennsylvania, and there are no other girls her age for miles. Ann and her older brothers, Daniel and David, make a game of trying to remain positive about their new home on Hamilton Hill.

Ann spends her days cooking, cleaning and helping her mother with the baby. She writes in a journal and teaches 11-year-old neighbor, Andy McPhale, to read. Andy’s father is a trapper who has refused to plant his own fields. Ann’s parents privately criticize Mr. McPhale’s lack of planning and suspect the family won’t last long in the new territory.

Ann is pleased when a young man named Arthur Scott stays with her family while seeking out land in their area. She’s also delighted when her mother joins her for a forest tea party, even though she has used mother’s best dishes without permission. David teases and annoys Ann, and she’s particularly frustrated when her journal goes missing. She is convinced David has taken it.

On a strange, cloudy day, Andy tells Ann that he and his family have decided to become planters after all. They’re going back east for the winter, and he urges her to ask if she can come with his family. Ann has mixed feelings as she ponders the idea of returning to Gettysburg.

A severe storm blows in, and the family spends the day trying to rescue all they can of the crops and garden plants. At the day’s end, Father thanks God for His mercy and recites the 23rd Psalm. Ann is amazed at how he can be so thankful and happy about their new home when her own feelings seem so mixed up.

When Andy’s family leaves for the winter, Ann finds a note from the boy. He took her journal when he was angry, he explains, but he made her a new deerskin cover for it. Ann goes for a walk and meets a group of men on horseback. One is General George Washington, and he says he would like to have dinner at her house. She learns Washington owns some land in their area because he believes it will be valuable someday.

Ann is pleased that they finally have an occasion to get out the good china, and she’s proud when Washington praises her and her family for their efforts to be pioneers in a new area. Washington’s men deliver a letter to Ann from her friend Margaret. She learns Margaret will be spending the summer with some family near Hamilton Hill. As she reads the letter and thinks of her exciting evening, she says her cup runneth over.

In an endnote, the author reveals this is the somewhat-true story of her great-great grandmother. The characters were real, and General Washington really did visit. Ann eventually marries Arthur Scott.

Christian Beliefs

Ann’s brother proudly shows her a spot where the family will build a church building someday. After the Hamiltons work to rescue as much of their crop as possible from the storm, Father says they must thank God for His mercy. He recites the 23rd Psalm, and Ann knows it’s his way of expressing his belief that God led them to this new home. Ann likes the psalm, too, but she doesn’t understand it all. She thinks the phrase my cup runneth over is a strange way to talk about happiness. At the end, when Ann is overwhelmed with joy, she whispers that her cup runneth over.

Other Belief Systems


Authority Roles

Ann’s loving parents work hard and try to remain upbeat and emotionally supportive in challenging circumstances. General Washington praises Ann’s family for helping develop new parts of the country.

Profanity & Violence

The phrase good lord appears once.

Sexual Content


Discussion Topics

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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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