TMW Book Reviews

A Reluctant Pioneer

by Joellen Collins

JoEllen Collins pens a masterful piece on examining one’s roots while gaining perspective in “A Reluctant Pioneer.”


In 1998, Leah Brown decided to spend some time alone in a small cabin in Idaho. Built during the late 1860s by her great, great grandparents, she contemplates her future treatments for her debilitating illness as memories of her past intermingle with her peaceful life in Idaho. One day, after stumbling upon her great, great grandmother’s diary, Leah soon finds that she and Linnea may have much more in common than she realizes.

The book explores the many struggles that women back then faced. Despite the opportunities presented to the Miltons, the move to the west was anything but smooth as Linnea battles with loneliness, danger, and losing friends along the dangerous trail. Back in the present, Leah, Linnea’s descendent, also deals with her impending loneliness exacerbated by her condition and her struggle to relate to her husband.

Despite the sizeable generational gap between the two women, the author does a great job of creating a solid link between the two through Linnea’s diary. Throughout her read, Leah starts to imagine Linnea’s unwritten thoughts, gaining perspective as she continues to explore her ancestor’s journey to the west.

As I read the story, I can’t help but feel touched at how the author managed to bring these two together. While the two characters never met, the author manages to create a strong connection through the use of the diary. With this medium, we can read both women’s thoughts and feelings (written or not). Additionally, using the journal was a great way to journey deep into Leah’s mind and how she handles her circumstances.

As we read Linnea’s entries, we find her dedication as a wife to Thaddeus. Despite the challenges of the journey being heavy on many pioneers, she remains as strong as ever—showcasing the same strength that many mothers and wives display even today.

In summary, it was a beautiful read. Introspective, refreshing, and evenly paced—this story is an excellent read for anyone who needs a quiet reflection on life in the past and how it can significantly affect the present. You may even find yourself gaining a new perspective too!

– The Moving Words Review

Official Entry: The Most Moving Book Award, Jan. 2, 2023

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