By Alex LaTrenta
Nothing is Impossible
Back in Time
On page 231, Agatha writes letters to the family. Here is a part of the letter:
Let me tell you that I am fine, since I am sure that you are worried. I am in Madison, staying at a reputable bearding house for lady students. I’ve got a job as a store clerk. All is well, except for the turmoil in my thoughts and heart…”
Back then in 1871, writing letters was very common and was one of the only ways to communicate, but now everyone uses texting and cell phones. The same thing works with telegraphs, too. The narrator mentions using telegraphs in the story and no one uses them anymore. On page 119, Georgie sees Billy coming out of the telegraph office and becomes suspicious. “From the corner of my eye, I saw Billy McCabe coming out of the telegraph office.” The money was very different back then and sometimes coins were worth more than their value. That was a big problem. Back then, people used Bechtler dollars which we do not use anymore. People also rode horses and used carriages back then. In the modern world, we use cars and trucks, which are so much faster than horses and wagons. In the story, they talk about Georgie’s amazing aim with her rifle, but regular people now don’t usually carry or even learn to shoot guns. Some people might do it for fun, like a sport, but most people don’t. Most traditions or objects from the past have evolved and changed over time. New traditions or objects have replaced other ones.
On page 112, Georgie travels to a store in Dog Hollow and buys some food for her expedition. “Pin Eyes brought out farm cheese and two-day-old bread. I took it anyway, along with two licorice sticks for me and a box of sugar cubes for Long Ears… When she asked for twenty cents, I pointed out I’d only bought fifteen cents’ worth of goods…” In the modern world, cheese, bread, licorice and sugar cubes would together cost about ten dollars, depending on the quality. It would be extremely unlikely to find all that food (with the original prices) for fifteen cents. It would just be nearly impossible. This relates to the time period because everything was very cheap back in the day, so all money was very valuable.
Story's Place In Time
1: 1876- In 1876 Alexander Graham Bell created the first practical telephone. If there was telephone at that time, then Georgie could have just called Agatha. Back then, there were just telegraphs and letters.
2: March 14, 1900- The Gold Standard Act of the United States was passed when gold became the only standard of redeeming paper money. This is important in the book because Georgie’s Pa, 10 years before in 1861, disappeared and never came back. They assumed that he died, just like Agatha.
3: June 16, 1903- At this time the Ford Motor Company (Ford) was created by Henry Ford in Dearborn, Michigan. In the story, everyone is riding on horses because cars were not invented yet, so it made travelling more time-consuming and difficult.
4: September 1, 1914- On September 1, 1914, the last passenger pigeon, Martha, died at the Cincinnati Zoo. After that day, the passenger pigeons were extinct. They were hunted because there were so many of them that came in large quantities. The pigeon hunters, also named pigeoners, hunted the pigeons for their meat. This relates to the story because in the book, the narrator talks about the pigeons and how there are so many of them. There are even pigeons on the book cover.
5: July 2nd, 1937- Amelia Earhart went missing in 1937. She was the first woman to try a circumnavigational flight around the globe. She disappeared over the central Pacific. In the story, Agatha disappears mysteriously just like Amelia Earhart.
6: December 14, 2012- The tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown happened. People wanted to act about it and make sure that it would not happen again. After that, America started having second thoughts about people owning their own guns. This was followed by an important public debate of gun safety. Georgie, who was 13, is carrying her Springfield Single Shotgun with her at all times while she searches for her sister, in case she meets the bad guys.
7: March 2, 2012- The US authorities arrested 29 people in a large counterfeit bust valued at $325 million in goods from China through a New Jersey port. Towards the end of the book, Georgie and Billy met Mr. Garrow, a money counterfeiter, and they had a small skirmish.
Lost in Doubt
Have you ever lost something or someone that is extremely important to you and are determined to get it back? Well… I have. So has Georgie Burkhart, the main character in the book One Came Home by Amy Timberlake. She is extremely stubborn and determined, but in this story, that’s a good quality. Georgie is thirteen and doesn’t go to school. Her 18-year old sister, Agatha, is also very stubborn and brave. Agatha is determined to get an education at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Billy is also a major character in this book. Billy loves Agatha, but Agatha and Billy are just good friends. Georgie gets frustrated because Agatha always hangs around with Billy now, and never with her. Agatha and Georgie’s father disappeared ten years before. He was searching for gold and he never came back. Now, their Grandfather, Grandpa Bolte, takes care of them instead. Grandpa Bolte thinks it is ridiculous and stupid for Agatha to get an education at the University of Wisconsin. He says that she is just going to get married there, and she can do it in Placid for free. Also, she doesn’t have the money to go to the school. The story takes place in Placid, Wisconsin in 1871. At this time, the pigeons are migrating and for a while, the sky is so full of pigeons, barely any light makes it down to the ground. Tens of thousands of pigeons swarm through the air, creating almost like a black blanket over the town. This is both a blessing and a curse. It provides easy food for everyone in Placid. People can just take out a gun, shoot up to the sky, and you usually get at least one pigeon. This also attracts pigeoneers, from all over Wisconsin and even America. You should never trust those pigeoneers (hint, hint).
The quote, “You don’t value what you have until it is gone,” is extremely important to remember to some people. One of those people, is Georgie. Georgie loves her sister more than anything in the big, wide world. When Georgie and Agatha get into a fight and Georgie blurts out something she shouldn’t have, Agatha mysteriously disappears. No one knows where she has gone, but they assume that she left with the pigeoneers. Then, the sheriff returns to town with an unidentified dead body wearing Agatha’s blue-green ballgown. The animals got to the body first, because the body has no face and a clump of auburn colored hair. No one has heard from Agatha for a long time. Everyone assumes the worst, that Agatha has left this world. Except for Georgie. She refuses to believe that her poor sister has passed on. Remember what I said about Georgie being stubborn and determined, well this was what I meant when I said this was a useful quality. She sets out on an life-changing adventure to find Agatha with Agatha’s extremely close friend, Billy. The type of conflict (the main conflict) in this story is Character vs. Self. Georgie is so determined to find Agatha at first, she doesn’t even think that Agatha could possibly be dead. Then her confidence starts to fade, later in the book. She is sort of having a mini argument with her self. She is probably thinking things like: “Agatha cannot be dead, she just isn’t. Keep looking!” or: “Agatha is dead. I have been searching for so long and haven’t found a thing. Lets just go back home.” She doesn’t know which one to do. There is a lot of internal conflict in this book.
Everyone thinks that stories are going to end in some kind of happily-ever-after moment, and then it is all happy. The End. Sometimes it doesn’t end that way. In this book what happens is, all hope is lost and then it sort of lives happily ever after. After Georgie and Billy have a little skirmish with Mr. Garrow, the counterfeiter, and put him in jail, they head back to Placid. At this point, Georgie one-hundred percent believes that Agatha is dead. Of course, the story wouldn’t end that way. After a few days, the belief suddenly changes. It was just a regular day when it happened. Ma was shuffling through the mail, and there it was. A letter from Agatha. She wasn’t dead, she was alive this entire time. Of course, Agatha didn’t know that Georgie went on a life-changing journey to go find her. Agatha ended up going to a boarding house for girls in Madison, and the people at the University of Wisconsin promised to try to teach her all that they could. You might be asking right now, who was the dead person that returned to Placid wearing Agatha dress? Before Agatha got to Madison, she ran away with the pigeoneers. When they arrived at Dog Hollow, Agatha started to suspect that the pigeoneers she was traveling with were untrustworthy. She separated herself from them at the first opportunity. Then, Agatha and a girl named Darlene Garrow (the counterfeiter’s daughter) became friends and walked through the town. They had the same auburn-colored hair. Agatha soon figured out that Darlene was engaged, but had no wedding dress. Since they were friends, Agatha sold the dress to Darlene. Darlene Garrow was the one who ended up dead, not Agatha.The Burkharts didn’t know that, of course. The unidentified dead body that was brought to town had no face. The only evidence that the body was Agatha’s, was the clump of auburn hair and the ballgown that Agatha had sold to Darlene. Agatha ended staying at Madison, and Billy ended up marrying a different girl named Polly. The family visited Agatha a lot in Madison, and the sheriff and Ma had their honeymoon there. The story really did end happily ever after.
Saturday, March 8th, 11pm
Ahh... The Olden Days
Counterfeiting is a No-no
The five dollar printing plate is the turning point in the middle/end of the book. It represents when Georgie falls into a cave, with all these counterfeiting materials. After a while, they figure out that Mr. Garrow, a regular man who owns a store in Dog Hollow, is a counterfeiter. They soon figure out that they left the fire going and Mr. Garrow is going to see the smoke and come looking for them. They leave immediately, but then something horrible happens the next morning. Read the book to find out…