After Five Five-Star Books in a row, I didn’t expect to read a sixth stellar book. A friend loaned me this book, and I decided I’d better read and return it. We had swapped books of local pioneer stories and the one I sent her wasn’t really that good. I approached Home Below Hell’s Canyon with a neutral attitude.
This book whirled me around. During the Depression Grace and Len Jordan bought a sheep ranch in Hell’s Canyon. With their three young children, they worked to make a go of it. Danger, isolation, toil, trials were daily companions. Jordan does not resort to high drama, nor does she syrup the narrative.
The life of the Jordan family was so foreign to a typical family’s life in 2010. Risks had to be taken, decisions had to be made, chores had to get done…all without a husband a cell phone call away. The pace of life was measured, time was carefully apportioned for the family and ranch hands to be fed and provisioned. It was typical to can 1,000 quarts of fruits, vegetables and meat for the year to come.
What fascinated me was the education of the children using the Calvert School’s correspondence course. The Jordans homeschooled before homeschool was a word! The way Grace Jordan met the challenges of educating the kids while running a ranch is worth the cost of the book.
This book is worthy. I hope to re-read it down the road. Satisfying stuff.
Len Jordan went on to become governor of Idaho and a US Senator.
Grace Jordan wrote four more books, taught journalism and English at various Idaho universities and has an elementary school named after her.