Image by tao_zhyn via FlickrDaughter Am I
By Pat Bertram
Second Wind Publishing
I had just finished reading the new humorous book about aging by Jeanne Kraus when I turned to read Daughter Am I by Pat Bertram. With the frame of mind started by Jeanne, I have to say that I was totally prepared to enjoy Daughter Am I! First I thought it reminded me of The Wizard of Oz as the main character began picking up new friends along her way, but by then, I was totally hooked!
The story created by Pat Bertram is a well-written unique novel that is fun, encouraging, compassionate, as well as a laid-back adventure that led to looking for gold! Laid-back, you question? Welllll, most of the group are "elders" as described by the main character, Mary Stuart, so the health of each one had to be considered while all of the clues were found and put together. Sit back, while I tell you more...
Mary Stuart had just received word that she had inherited the estate of James and Regina Stuart. When she questioned this, she discovered that they were her grandparents! Her father had been estranged from them for years and had lied to Mary, saying they were dead.
Then she was even more shocked to learn that they had been murdered! And their house had been ransacked as if somebody was searching for something.
Mary was a quiet woman who normally didn't get too involved in dissension, but, she couldn't let this pass. She had to find out about two grandparents she had not had the opportunity to know! So she set off alone to find out more about them! And winds up looking for gold!
As soon as Mary announced to her family that she had inherited the farm, Bill, her assumed fiance, decided that it should be sold so that they could get married and make a down payment on their home. Then he tagged along when Mary went to see her inheritance, immediately calling it a dump--not endearing himself to Mary who was still upset for never knowing about them.
Finding an address book, Mary decides to find friends who knew her grandparents, to learn about them, trying to get to know them through their eyes. Her first contact was with someone who had done business with her grandfather who was a gunsmith.
Let me stop here and explain that the characters Mary meets drive this book--there is no way to adequately describe how, when and where she meets these individuals. So, for expediency, I will highlight that all of these individuals have a criminal background--one's a con man, one is a forger, one is even a hit man, etc., but Mary is the type of woman that accepts people as they are and cares about them and they respond to her. All of them have been living alone, some with little ability to buy food, yet she talks each of them into sharing whatever they know (even if it is a little bit at a time until they trust her) and she is able to proceed somewhere else to talk to somebody else. Soon, Mary realizes that she wants to find out why and who actually murdered her grandparents, especially after she discovers that their son (her cousin who she had also never known about) and his family were also murdered!
What's fun for the readers is that each new elder she meets decides, or is invited, to come along on Mary's journey. Mary soon finds out that those in her group have not necessarily given up their past activities. She is horrified, for instance, to discover at one point she is driving a stolen bus! (But they did need the extra space for the growing number of travelers...)
And then, at one stop, she meets a man about her own age, who takes an interest in everything that's happening and then later explains that he has part of the story and clues! Soon Many is so interested in him that she even forgets who Bill is!
Bertram has included quite a bit of history regarding the mafia, the use of gold coins in our early American history, and highlights much about guns used during the period, lending credibility and a breadth to the novel that greatly adds to the storyline. The ending is fantastic in my opinion--in fact, I loved the book! There is much for baby boomers to enjoy, but, the adventurous journey of a busload of elders and two young people falling in love really is one I'd highly recommend to a general audience. Enjoyment of a true treasure hunt is waiting for you in Daughter Am I by Pat Bertram! But gold isn't necessarily the treasure...
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