To whomever suggested I read the Sunfire novels, I’d like to thank you and take you out for a quadruple-scoop hot fudge banana slip fudge ripple waffle cone sundae at The ‘Burger. It combines my love of crappy YA lit with historical fiction. And my FAVORITE time at that- the late 1800s pioneers. You all know my obsession with LHOTP, obvi. And you know what? I can’t even snark that much- this is good shit!
Amanda is a piled rich girl in Boston who has a shady father. Dad owes a lot to a bookie and so he decides, hey, let’s just join the Oregon trail. Amanda is all put off because she’s rather sit around in white gloves and accept gentlemen visitors. And omg, this ugly, poor girl Helen tries to be her friend! And there’s that cute Ben Compton! How will he ever notice her if she is getting dirt all over her silk dress? Also, he looks about 45 on the cover. Slowly, she turns into Elizabeth Wakefield and the whole lot of people they are traveling with talk about her and tell her how awesome she is and beg her to ride with their families.
Somewhere around Ohio Amanda suddenly becomes a saint and learns how to do all the chores and manages her own team of oxen and fix wagons and make cornbread out of sand or whatnot. Luckily, lots of the book was about the actual stragglers of the pioneers and was fairly historically detailed. man, it was shitty. They went for days only eating a biscuit everyday, no showers for weeks, people dying of consumption and – gasp- Indian raids! Although, true to a YA novel, Amanda does stop to notice that the Indian that raids her tent is quite the piece of ass.
Of course, the hero Ben Compton suddenly notices the “fierce fire” in Amanda or some metaphor like that and loves her only after she starts taking care of herself. And he leaves his pushover fiance for her, but the fiance forgives her. And every day, the most hardest thing comes before them, like crossing a river or a drought or a mountain or the word mountain ever or then an even worse mountain or worse shortage of food. Or Amanda smudges her silk dress. You know, tragedies like that.
Amanda’s Dad dies after breaking his neck on a hunt, which wasn’t too much of a tragedy because he was kind of a pain in the ass, was always grumpy, and ordered Amanda around a lot. Helen is probably going to die, but that that’s ok, she arrives in Oregon with Ben Compton and they are going to start a new life together, just living off the land (how Battlestar Galactica of them).
This makes me think of a miniseries on cable a while back, Into the West, and I swear I am one of three people that watched it. It was about several generations of pioneer families and Native Americans through the development of the west. I have to say it was very well done. You had all the drahma but I guess it was more historically accurate than most. I think. Especially those grossing the country. One gal had her legt run over by a wagon so they had to cut it off with a butter knife (and she died during it). Another weird thing is that Keri Russell was kidnapped by some Indians and forced to marry one, but six months later, she’s all having six of his babies and speaking their language but is all happy. Ok. Then there’s the goldrush and there’s some drama. Oh, and of course the Native American woman who marries a white man (a pre-Gossip Girl Matthew Settle) and how their kids deny their heritage. Also, there is a bevvy of hotties in this. Especially my faves Matthew Modine, Skeet Ulrich, and Balthazar Getty (schwing!). Of course I would reduce it to that, right? I’m just like Amanda.