Title: Circling Back Home: A Plainswoman’s Journey
Author: Darcy Lipp-Acord
Publishing House/Publication Date: South Dakota State Historical Society Press/2013
Genres: Biographical; Essays; Memoir; Inspirational Non-Fiction
Number of Pages: 120
You should read this book if… You enjoy reading essays, and feel a special empathy for the lifestyle of farmers and ranchers – in particular the wives who support them.
Theme and Message: The themes of this unique book vary from chapter to chapter, as each is a distinct and stand-alone essay. Included in the 13 compositions are discussions of true belonging, connection with the land, life through a farmer’s eyes, the empathy of horses and dogs, and more. Ultimately they are all woven together with the threads of honoring the generations of grandparents who have gone before us by remembering our heritage, and their legacy.
Writing Style and Voice: Darcy Lipp-Acord is clearly a talented writer who has mastered the art of crafting strong prose that often reads like poetry. Interestingly, one of her artistic techniques is to ask subtle questions without answering them, causing readers to think and evaluate individually. In a first-person voice brimming with reminiscence of days long past, her work also intertwines with more recent occurrences in her daily life with six children and a ranch-managing husband. While the meaning is usually clear, many of the essays take winding paths before reaching the destination at the end.
Structure and Organization: With a unique format, this book is divided into 13 chapters – each one being an individual essay. Clearly the essays are not ordered chronologically, but perhaps rather by theme and content.
Questionable Content: Ironically, one of the most endearing factors of the book is also one of the most troubling. Each chapter holds a raw, emotion-filled charge – and usually this is a good thing. However, both the dialogue and transferring of thoughts to paper often feels completely uncensored. This is expressed in the fact that swearwords are not uncommon, and inappropriate thoughts about various topics, while generally mild, are still bountiful. Unfortunately, these pitfalls make the book difficult to recommend.
Conclusion: Circling Back Home is a fresh, intriguing book that will provide interesting thinking material. Though direct references to Christianity are few, it becomes clear that the author is indeed a Christian. This reflects in her worldview. The various areas of objectionable content, however, are a downfall that cannot be ignored. In the end, it depends on the individual reader’s level of maturity. While much of the material may go over younger readers’ heads, older readers may find that Darcy’s themes, struggles, and thoughts are echoes of their own lives.
***A review copy of this book was provided courtesy of the South Dakota State Historical Society Press, in exchange for an honest review.