The Personal History of Rachel DuPree: A Novel

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Penguin, Aug 12, 2010 - Fiction - 336 pages
18 Reviews
An award-winning novel with incredible heart, about life on the prairie as it's rarely been seen

When Rachel, hired help in a Chicago boardinghouse, falls in love with Isaac, the boardinghouse owner's son, he makes her a bargain: he'll marry her, but only if she gives up her 160 acres from the Homestead Act so he can double his share. She agrees, and together they stake their claim in the forebodingly beautiful South Dakota Badlands.

Fourteen years later, in the summer of 1917, the cattle are bellowing with thirst. It hasn't rained in months, and supplies have dwindled. Pregnant, and struggling to feed her family, Rachel is isolated by more than just geography. She is determined to give her surviving children the life they deserve, but she knows that her husband, a fiercely proud former Buffalo Soldier, will never leave his ranch: black families are rare in the West, and land means a measure of equality with the white man. Somehow Rachel must find the strength to do what is right-for herself, and for her children.

Reminiscent of The Color Purple as well as the frontier novels of Laura Ingalls Wilder and Willa Cather, The Personal History of Rachel DuPree opens a window on the little-known history of African American homesteaders and gives voice to an extraordinary heroine who embodies the spirit that built America.
 

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User Review  - froxgirl - LibraryThing

An amazing first person history of two seemingly disparate elements: South Dakota and African American pioneers. Rachel is a cook in a stockyard boardinghouse for black workers when she meets Isaac ... Read full review

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User Review  - GrannyNanny - LibraryThing

I loved this book from the first words! To have gone through all that this woman and her family went through was amazing and sad. She believed that by marrying Isaac she would rise above her current ... Read full review

Contents

THE BADLANDS
MRS DUPREE
SERGEANT DUPREE
ROUNDER
MRS FILLS THE PIPE
ISAAC
INDIANS
IDA B WELLSBARNETT
JOHNNY
MARY
THE MANDOLIN PLAYER
EMMA
MARY AND JOHN
PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR
WANAGI CANKU
RACHEL

JERSEYBELL
ALAND MINDY MCKEE

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About the author (2010)

Ann Weisgarber was born and raised in Kettering, Ohio. She holds a master's degree in sociology and has worked as a social worker and has taught high school and college. She has lived in Boston and Des Moines and now divides her time between Sugar Land and Galveston, Texas. Her first novel, The Personal History of Rachel DuPree, was longlisted for the Orange Prize, was a finalist for the Orange Award for New Writers, and won the Langum Prize in American Historical Fiction and the Texas Institute of Letters' Steven Turner Award for Best Work of First Fiction.

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