July 14, 2015

On My Bookshelf: Gap Creek by Robert Morgan

In Gap Creek by Robert Morgan, young Julie Harmon works “hard as a man” and her family depends on her to do so. At just seventeen she marries and moves down into the valley of Gap Creek, where perhaps life will be better. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.
Plot: Life just gets harder and harder for Julie. She lives in the mountains of North Carolina with her parents and siblings in the late 1800s. The novel begins with the death of her younger brother and is closely followed by the death of her sickly father. During her father’s illness and after his death, most of the hard labor falls on Julie as her mother is ill and her other sisters are more feminine. When she marries Hank, she is excited to start a new life where at least she will be working for herself, but the hardships continue. The man she and her new husband are living with dies and the two live in fear of being put out of his home by his heirs. There is ice and a flood, the chickens are killed by a mink, Hanks loses his job, Julie butts heads with her mother-in-law, near starvation causes the pre-mature birth of Julie’s baby and its eventual death. Julie’s belief in God and her hard work ethic are the only things she has going for her.

Why I liked it: The novel reveals Hank and Julie’s relationship from its start until about a year and a half into their marriage. Both are young, Julie not even seventeen, when they marry, and it is interesting to see how they grow and mature.

Classroom application: This novel or even just a chapter of it could be used as a fiction pairing in an American History course. The novel depicts pre-industrial life around the turn of the century (late 1800s into early 1900s). While North Carolina is not part of the Western frontier, the challenges Julie and Hank face are similar to those faced during Western expansion.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of Gap Creek for yourself, you can find it on Amazon here.

Note: The Literary Maven is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

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