Several years ago I watched an excellent PBS documentary of the Donner Party story. At the end of the program, having vicariously lived through the whole mess, they interviewed this older woman who had lived through it all to get her thoughts and advice: "don't take no shortcuts" was her main thought. I had to laugh thinking how trite that sounded after all of that. To some extent, "These is My Words" reminds me of that. I can picture Nancy Turner reading through journals and just shaking her head at the things that they went through back then with deaths of close family, severe heat and living conditions, flooding, cold winters, snakes, desperadoes dropping in, being attacked by the Indians, etc.
Someone compared the book to "Lonesome Dove." It is like Lonesome Dove in that it gives us an up close and personal look of what it must have really been like back then. But for me, although all of those things were very well told, the real genius of the book was Nancy's ability to convey to us the inner thinking and emotional flip flopping and somewhat brilliant and yet naive world of Sarah, the heroine.
In reading great authors, I'm always amazed at how they are able to put into writing things that are so subtle and hard to explain. And yet, that's what Nancy Turner has done here. She's given us a lovable, hard working, stubborn, clever, tough, tender, and excellent character.