A BEAUTIFULLY-ETCHED POTRAIT OF THE LIVES OF A WYOMING RANCH FAMILY FROM DEBUT AUTHOR JAMIE LISA FORBES
by Virginia Campbell
Jamie Lisa Forbes' exquisitely-written debut work, "Unbroken", has a permanent place in my heart. The author's own early years on a Wyoming ranch add an insider's observations which enrich the story line and bring vivid, fully-fleshed life to the characters. Ranchers exist on two levels. One is the regulated life, controlled by government strictures and standards and by the fluctuations of the costs of owning and operating a working ranch. Then there is the blood and bone life, which is unending hard work meshed with human wants and needs and the heavy hand of the forces of nature. Family members are dependent upon each other for all things, and neighbors must negotiate with care issues of land and livestock. Women not only bear children, cook and keep house, but they work side by side with their men. They also endure endless seasons of punishing weather made even more bleak by an isolated existence. When Gwen Swan married her husband Will, she became caregiver to her husband and children, her widowed father-in-law, and the land and livestock which provides their means of living. Outwardly somewhat faded and frazzled, Gwen still retains some of the pride of the glory of her former rodeo queen days. She wants more than the daily drudge of her routine. Meg Braeburn is a capable ranch hand, raising a son on her own while her ex-husband spends his days in prison. When Meg left home to elope with the love of her young life, she left her family behind. Her failed marriage ended her romantic dreams, but she is a good and loving mother to her young son, Jim. She finds work on the ranch next to the one owned by the Swans. Her boss is a drinker and a skinflint, but Meg needs work and a place to live, so she takes on the job of running his cattle. As time goes by, Meg and the Swans become friends and work to help each other as needed. Gwen is grateful for female company, and Meg appreciates the family's interest in her own son. Will's father John is a boisterous man whose bullying tendencies are equaled by a tough tenderness. Will and his brother Nick have always had a competitive relationship, and Nick left the family ranch as young man and branched out on his own. As the years pass, relationships change and hearts seek out comfort where comfort may be found. Lives are forever altered and what was once taken for granted now becomes uncertain. The author's subtle storytelling places us right into the lives of these characters, sharing with them their tragedies and triumphs. In an intimate, involving manner we follow them through with their starts, stops, and restarts, and we want so much for them to find peaceful resolution. "Unbroken" is unforgettable.
Causes Virginia Campbell Supports
I live in a very small town with few job opportunities. I would love to be employed in a position which allowed me to promote literacy and put books in the...