A book review for parents
This historical fiction book in the "Daughters of the Faith" series by Wendy Lawton is published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Hachette Book Group.
Almost Home is written for kids ages 8 to 12. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.
Mary Chilton and her family are separatists who have escaped the tyranny of England. Mr. Chilton and others feel God’s calling to leave Holland with their families (a land where they are not persecuted but are barely able to support themselves) for the unsettled lands of Virginia. Together they board the Mayflower. As the voyage stretches out from days to months, they fight severe illnesses, harsh weather and the loss of family and friends through death. During the trip, Mary’s father dies of a terrible illness. When Mary doubts the wisdom of leaving Holland, her mother and friends — Elizabeth and Constance — remind her of God’s providence. Mary, Elizabeth and Constance care for the children and sick. Just as they reach the New World, Mary’s mother dies. Mary remembers the lessons her parents taught her and seeks God’s will.
Mary trusts in God and is drawn closer to Him. When she learns that she belongs in the center of God’s will, she finds her home. As the Mayflower journeys across the vast ocean, they encounter many problems. The Elders, the spiritual leaders, patiently remind the weary travelers of their many blessings and encourage them to keep their faith. In one scene, Mary is sad because of the numerous illnesses and their seemingly unending days on the Mayflower. A friend reminds her of God’s providence and the blessing of a new land where they can worship the Lord as they please.
Mr. and Mrs. Chilton (Mary’s parents), Elder Brewster, Captain Jones, Mistress White and Governor Bradford are the key authority figures in this book. Mr. Chilton and the other male leaders are portrayed as the head of their families and the decision makers on the trip. Before they make decisions, they seek God’s wisdom. In one scene, Mary’s father dies. The elders look out for her and her mother. Mary, her friends and all the adults watch out for each other’s children on the ship.
Other Belief Systems
In one scene, a rock hits Mr. Chilton (Mary’s father) on the head. In other scenes, sailors yell degrading slurs at the Pilgrims, but no profane words are used.
If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:
- Elder Brewster says he would meet the group of Pilgrims, who left from Holland, in England. Mary knows he did not board the ship when they stopped in England. She suspects that he is hiding.
Why does Elder Brewster hide?
What is he willing to risk to gain the freedom to worship God?
- When Mary’s father dies, Mary wonders if her family should not have traveled on the Mayflower.
What does Mary’s mother say to her?
Can that advice be applied to your life, also?
- Many people die, and the Pilgrims have to endure many hardships.
What do the Pilgrims have to be grateful for?
What are you grateful for?
Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.