Review: Maggie Elisabeth Harrington by D.J. Swykert

I Live in Two Worlds

Book 1 of Maggie Elisabeth Harrington

 

Title: Maggie Elisabeth Harrington

Subtitle: I Live in Two Worlds

Author: D.J. Swykert

Genre: Literary Fiction

First Published in 2013

Year of Publication of this Edition: 2016

Published by Magic MasterMinds LLC

Series: Maggie Elisabeth Harrington

Rating: 2/5 stars

In March, I received a message through the contact form from author D. J. Swykert, who informed me about his book entitled Maggie Elisabeth Harrington (a fictional story with a real person as its protagonist) and he was looking forward for reviews. I read a few pages from the first chapter and the story sounded like something I would be interested in. However, as I read the book, I began to enjoy it less and less until I had to push myself to finish it just because it was a short novel.

 Maggie Elisabeth Harrington is a thirteen-year-old girl living in a small mining town in upper Michigan, called Central Mine, with her stern father and grandmother. Maggie is a lonely and idealistic girl, but she also loves animals and suffers when someone harms them, whether those animals are the kittens her father drowns every summer or the mother-wolf shot for the bounty. Maggie hates the rules imposed by the Methodist Church or the moral standards set by society because she is a free-spirited girl who wants to live her life however she wants to, if possible with her crush, Tommie Stetter, the son of her father’s boss. Maggie is a very caring person, she longs for love and it hurts her to notice that her father doesn’t have any paternal feeling for her as if he hates her or considers her guilty for her mother’s premature death. Her grandmother doesn’t talk too much either, but, at least, she treats Maggie better than her father and she gives her chores to do inside and around the house.

Because of her feeling of helplessness, she has every summer when her father drowns the kittens, Maggie promises herself that when she will grow up, she will not tolerate cruelty to animals any longer and she will do something about it. The challenge she will have to face will be to save the wolf pups and take care of them without anyone knowing it with the exception of Tommie and his sister and Maggie’s best friend, Annie, who will give them shelter and scraps of food. “This is how a wolf pack came into my life. I do not know why God has given them to me to look after, but I am glad to have them. I am not feeling lonely anymore. My life is becoming full, the way I have always hoped it would be.” (Loc. 599)

Maggie has strong and modern opinions about religion too, which actually astonished me at first because her story takes place in the 1890s, in Victorian times. “I don’t understand why you have to make life so complicated when it’s really very easy. If you don’t harm anything, and don’t take what doesn’t belong to you, and you work real hard for the things you have, I don’t understand why you have to do all this praying and studying to get into heaven.” (Loc. 249) She also questions the very existence of God Himself, which is pretty hard to believe that a thirteen-year-old girl can think so maturely and profoundly. But Maggie’s qualities stop here.

I hate to say this, but Maggie’s voice becomes very annoying as the book progresses.  She has a few obsessive ideas in her mind and repeats them a lot. I think it wasn’t necessary for her to remind me in every single chapter one of the following thoughts that cross her mind:  she’s not sure if God exists or not, she loves Tommie and she thinks he’s very handsome, Annie is a very practical person, Maggie is angry with her father for drowning the kittens or she is afraid that someone wants to kill her wheels for the bounty.

Though the book is not very long, I felt like I was reading it endlessly because the story drags on and on and it’s too explanatory, leaving nothing to the reader’s imagination. If the story had been a little shorter (without every thought that crosses Maggie’s mind) and the other characters had been better fleshed out, I would have enjoyed this novel more than I did. It also had a lot of telling that made the reading experience even harder. However, what saved the book was the historical setting and the depiction of the harsh life the miners and their families had.

In short, if you are interested in how a teenage girl sees life, love, religion and the environment and if you enjoy character-driven stories set in the past, then give Maggie Elisabeth Harrington a try.

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