Dear America: Like the Willow Tree, The Diary of Lydia Amelia Pierce (Portland, Maine 1918) by Lois Lowry

willowLydia begins her first entry sounding like a rather spoiled young woman. But very soon after, she and her brother lose everything when their parents and baby sister die from the Influenza. Their aunt and uncle, who are burdened with too many children, send Lydia and her brother to live in the Shaker community at Sabbathday Lake. At first, Lydia is resentful of the place that puts her to work, forces her to give up all of her belongings– all belongings are shared in that community–, and separates her from her brother, but she soon finds genuine love and compassion among her new friends and teachers. She lives a lovely, clean, and virtuous life at Sabbathday, but eventually leaves the celibate Shaker lifestyle, as she wishes for a husband and family of her own. A very sweet and clean little book, nothing too controversial, and a very positive insight into the soon-to-be extinct Shaker tradition.

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