Sallie March, and her soon to be infamous sister, Maude, didn't intend to become outlaws. It all started one perfectly ordinary day when their Aunt Ruthie--their only known living relative--was shot down outside the mercantile. Joe Harden, the outlaw made famous by a series of dime novels, didn't mean to shoot Aunt Ruthie...as we come to find out. But the damage had already been done. The bank forecloses on the girls' home even before Ruthie is put in the ground. Now Sallie and Maude are dependent on the town's charity. Taken in by the preacher and his wife, all seems to be going well. True, the two work all day slaving away. But there is at least a roof over their heads and food in their mouths. But when the preacher tries to force Maude, then 15, into marrying a middle-aged man...Maude does the only thing she can think of: to run as far away as possible. While it's true that Maude and Sallie take two horses--a buggy pony and a plow horse, they left them their milk cow.
"I figured we're owed the buggy pony and the plow horse, I told her. The one is gassy and the other is so old it would have died soon anyway of over work. Aunt Ruthies cow is worth more than the two of them put together. That was only too true. I'd have happily ridden our cow if she could be counted on to run when I dug my heels in. She could be counted on in every other way that mattered, but she wasn't built to run"(44).
Now Maude and Sallie are on the run carrying what food and supplies they can. Their goal: Independence, the last known residence of their Uncle Arlen who disappeared when the girls were still young. They can barely remember him. They can only hope he's made it out west. What the girls don't know is that trouble will follow them all the way on their journey...and by the time they reach Independence, Maude's reputation will be lost forever.
"I tell you all this to make you understand that Maude was an upright young woman who never made mock of the truth or questioned the dark ways of justice until she saw how truth could be mangled to make a shape unrecognizable. To have you know her for a rightly praised person who never complained about the awful twists of fate that made her life less comfortable than it might have been. To show you how impossible it was for her to do the things everyone claimed that she did. For this is the true story of how my sister, Maude March, came to be known far and wide as a horse thief, a bank robber, and a cold-blooded killer." (6)
Recommended Ages: 9 and up
This review was written and submitted by Becky L.
A review of the sequel to this book will be posted tomorrow.