Kathryn deeply loves her town and Sugar Loaf Hill, but Reynolds’s sparse prose doesn’t offer the lived-in detail to summon up a sense of her milieu. The story, which expands to touch on divorce and other issues, is told primarily in dialogue (with the occasional telegram), an approach that emphasizes the social nature of Wolfe’s work but leads to some awkward expositional conversation while leaving it to the reader to fill in the blanks of what characters look like and why they do the things they do.
At its best, though, the novel showcases a keen eye on social and emotional relationships in small towns and the way women work together. The extended chapter where Kathryn pickets in Washington, D.C., as a “Silent Sentinel” is an unflinching look at the abuse and ridicule the women went through during the tense time before the Nineteenth Amendment was created and later ratified. Full of characters who grow, evolve, and change their minds, readers who love an ensemble cast with a strong main character will enjoy Kathryn’s story of triumph, as she stands in for so many women who organized and labored in their small towns to get suffrage for all women.
Takeaway: This novel of a Kansas suffragist’s climb toward justice emphasizes the hard work and conviction it takes to change minds.
Great for fans of: Sally Nicholls’s Things a Bright Girl Can Do, Laura Moriarty.
Design and typography: A-
Marketing copy: A