1979 Book Review: The Shepherd of the Hills by Harold Bell Wright — October Memoir Challenge
This is my sixteenth post, for age 16, of the October Memoir and Backstory Challenge hosted by Jane Anne McLachlan. My previous posts: Baby Speed Eater, Two Tales, Curls, Most Magical Christmas, Kindergarten, Places, Mental Health in 1969, The Boxcar Children, The Little House Books, Too Thin, Four Square, Curls: Take Two, Scouting, Schools, and Sophomore Year.
Book: The Shepherd of the Hills by Harold Bell Wright
Publisher: A.L. Burt Company
Publication date: 1907
Source: my parents’ collection
Thoughts in 1979: This is from my diary during a snowy basketball season of my Junior Year in high school. The entry was dated January 23, 1979.
We didn’t have school Friday so I didn’t go to the game. We lost 62-67. Tonight we play Mark Twain, well, maybe. We got out of school early and they may cancel it.
I used the extra time to finish The Shepherd of the Hills for about the twentieth time. The story is great. It was written in 1907 so Harold Bell Wright’s descriptions are rather long in the style of the day. But they are very good of the Ozark region. Since I have the book practically memorized I just skip over the descriptions when I don’t feel like reading them. I usually do though. Anyway, it’s about a young girl, or lady actually, who learns to become “a sure enough lady” even in the backwoods and about an older man who finds God’s peace in the hills.
The older man, “Dad” Hewitt, is a stranger from the world beyond the ridge. He comes into the Ozark region to regain his health. While there he finds a debt he feels he must try to atone. He becomes the Shepherd for the sheep and the people in the neighborhood. He helps the girl, Sammy, to see the real meaning of life. He helps the giant of the hills, Young Matt, to control the beast within himself and become a man.
The book is sometimes happy, more often sad. It has excitement and adventure with fights, lynch mobs, and posses. There is a tender love story between Sammy and Young Matt. There are morals that aren’t stuffy. The book says something different to me each time I read it, depending on my mood and needs. It is always peaceful.
Thoughts in the 1990s: I read The Shepherd of the Hills one time as an adult, when we were visiting Branson with my family. My dad asked how it was and I had a one-word review: sappy. Apparently, sixteen was the perfect age for this book. Obviously from the photo, however, I’m still sentimental enough to hold on to my copy.
So, does the writing in the above diary entry from when I was sixteen sound remarkably like how I write today? There are ways I would edit it to take it to second draft quality, but it looks to me not that different from my first drafts now. I’m not sure if I should be embarrassed for lack of improvement or happy that I found my writing voice early and didn’t lose it somewhere along the way.
Other Reviews: ByBee of Blue-Hearted Bookworm has fond memories of her 6th grade teacher reading The Shepherd of the Hills to her class: Mrs. Betty Lemmon. 6th Grade. Sept-Dec 1972. I loved reading that piece since I wrote about my 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Bridges, reading to us in an earlier October Memoir post: The Little House Books — October Memoir Challenge.
Are there books you loved as a child or teen that don’t work at all for you as an adult?
Being from Missouri, I had the same kind of experience with Shepherd of the Hills–when I took my kids to Branson a few years ago and bought a copy, it wasn’t as good as I remembered. Another book like that is Green Mansions by Hudson–I loved it as a child, but when my daughter read it, she pointed out all of its flaws. She is way less romantic and a lot more cognizant of what’s going on in the world than I was at her age.
I think I read Green Mansions when I was about 10. Can’t really remember much of it except that it was always on the family bookshelf with about 10,000 other titles. I remember in 2nd grade taking exception to the Wilder books for their portrayal of Indians…yet another reason for my 2nd grade teacher to be overwhelmed by me. It was her first year, and I was her devil child but I truly didn’t mean to be which made it worse for her because she knew I wasn’t trying to be difficult.
I love that you still have your diary from when you were 16. I misplaced mine a long time ago, although I only ever wrote sporadically in those five year diaries so it’s probably not such a great loss! I recently reread A House with The Clock in Its Walls by John Bellairs – it was a book that I read over and over again when I was younger – and I was quite disappointed that it wasn’t the scary read that I remembered it to be.
I still have all my journals but I didn’t do a good job of book reviewing. Movie reviews, I still have but have lost both written and memory! of books I read as a kid. Well, except my few favorites (Narnia) and I wish I hadn’t re-read them as an adult. I think rereading must be a skill picked up early, I still don’t have good experiences rereading books.
I’m afraid to re-read the books I loved as a kid, lol. I don’t want to lose their warm memories!
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