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Through diaries and letters, Esther Kruse, a woman who settles into life on a small farm on the South Dakota prairie, provides insight into what it means to be a wife, mother, homemaker, and one-room school teacher during much of the 20th century on the isolated prairie of central South Dakota. Her life is explored in the narration of her granddaughter, who studies the diaries after their discovery in her grandmother's attic. As the author pieces together her grandmother's life from the previously unknown diaries, a story evolves, illustrating the value of family and small town community, through great events and small, and is an example of the human struggle to bring some small bit of civilization to a vast and wild landscape. The Book of Esther follows nearly 50 years in the life of Esther Kruse. It begins with her first diary written in her late 20s, as a single woman finding life on her own as a one-room school teacher in the Great Depression, and continues as she marries the captain of the local baseball team, raises two children, struggles with all the daily tasks of a farm, the wild South Dakota weather, illness, and finally, cancer.
Through it all, she shines as an example of Midwestern strength and faith and the character that has shaped the heartland of America.