When I would spend summer’s at my cottage, every Saturday my mother, grandmother and I would take trips into the small tourist town of Bobcaygeon to take in the sights, watch the locks and swing bridge move, and of course, go to the bookstore. Two of the author’s I remember best from my childhood, were Lurlene McDaniel, and Lauren Brooke. And it was at this tiny bookstore that I discovered them.
Heartland, which is the basis for the television show on CBC of the same name, is about a teenager named Amy Fleming, who looses her mother in a tragic car accident, while rescuing a mistreated horse. The series of 20 books, with an additional 5 special editions, follow Amy as she grows up without her mother. She is surrounded by her grandfather, older sister, best friends, and stable hand as they try to cope with the difficult loss, and push forward with the future of the farm.
Coming Home sets the tone for the entire series. There is humour, and wit, and teaches young adolescents a great deal about pain and tragedy as well. I’ll explore a bit more about that in tomorrow’s post. I think it’s rare to find a book series that encompasses everything so well, without being too overbearing on the reader. It leaves you with a sense that these characters are real, and feel things the same way that you, the reader would. And I truly believe that draws the reader deeper into the story, and into the lives of the characters.
I think my family always hated it when we would walk into the bookstore, because they knew that we weren’t leaving with any less than two books at a time. Each time I knew we’d be going, I’d check the list of which books I already had, and made sure to scour the shelves from top to bottom to find them. For some reason, despite never really having a massive interest in horses, I was utterly entranced by this series, and found myself relating to the struggles Amy faced both at home, and at school.
Recently, I discovered that the series was actually ghostwritten by Linda Chapman, and she has authored over 15 other series’. A shock to me, given that I’d never imagined (as a kid anyway) that someone would have to use a pen-named to get published. The books are next to near impossible to find at large bookstores these days, which disheartens me greatly. A companion series (Chestnut Hill) exists in the Heartland universe, and features an occasional appearance from Amy, but focuses more on a new series of characters.