Jane Kirkpatrick has a notable skill when it comes to weaving together fact and fiction. Carrie "Dell" Strahorn calls out through Kirkpatrick's words inviting readers into the ups and downs of life in the old west.
In all honesty, Kirkpatrick's skill made this book a hard read for me. Carrie's wrestling to balance her life, manage her grief at lost dreams, and find a sense of home in a changing world are as real today as they were in Carrie's day. While maintaining close ties to her source material, Kirkpatrick allows Carrie's story to show how much the heart remains the same through the years. She wasn't a cookie cutter heroine or an overly cleaned up ideal. While Carrie preferred to convey an optimistic outlook, fleshing out her marriage, financial, and social challenges made her present in the pages through celebration and heartbreak. Kirkpatrick's ability to meld research and storytelling allows Carrie's voice to shine through the years.
I also enjoyed the chance to have real-life female inspiration for the protagonist. While historical fiction is, by far, my go-to genre, I can remember books referencing Robert Strahorn, never Carrie. I love seeing these stories come back into public awareness and the encouragement women can take, even from an inspired fiction.
It is worth noting some readers may find Everything She Didn't Say a challenge to read compared to others in the genre. Carrie's existence as a real person means the outcomes of her experiences are not always as rosy or polished as Christian fiction and historical fiction tends to present. There are no quick fixes or nicely wrapped up stories. Additionally, the chapters are shorter and often framed around excerpts from Carrie's actual book Fifteen Thousand Miles by Stage this leaves the book feeling choppy at times with more jarring transitions.
4 out of 5 stars.
"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc."