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Andrea Carter and the Long Ride Home Review by Donna Campos

By Susan K. Marlow
Kregel Publications
733 Wealthy Street SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Andrea Carter and the Long Ride Home is the first book in the Circle C Adventures series for tweens. The book is 128 pages long, and the story is set in the San Joaquin Valley of California in the 1880s. The main character, Andrea Carter, prefers the nickname "Andi", as she is not a typical dressed-up, dainty girl. Andi is a horseback-riding, rough-and-tumble, bilingual rancher daughter with confidence and courage. She admires her older brothers, finds her older and more feminine sister amusing, holds great respect for her mother, and loves them all deeply. As a strong-willed young lady, she regularly stumbles into difficult situations that test and build her character. The book is quality reading for older elementary students and young teenagers who enjoy suspense with a Biblical foundation. Written by a homeschooling mom but not specifically for homeschools, the book offers quality, clean reading.

This is an excellent start to what is currently a series of only two books. As we become immersed in Andi's world, we suddenly feel as if we have known her forever. The details regarding ranch work and the chores of the day provide educational value. Andrea speaks English and Spanish, and the plot includes her assisting a young Mexican family. She lives and works alongside them while teaching them English.

Basic Biblical truths are found throughout the book, and Andi's heartfelt prayers show her humility before God. Instances of racial prejudice and blatant abuse of societal position are well written and representative of the time. Our favorite part of the story is a reference to the parable Jesus told regarding the lost sheep. The book offers a wonderful example of families fighting for one another and bringing a runaway back home.

Andrea Carter is a wonderful character, and our family has enjoyed both of the Circle C Adventures currently available. We eagerly await additional installments. The dishonesty presented in the story as she blended into the Mexican family was understandable because of the situation, but still dishonest. Several times, Andi knowingly allowed people to assume that she was part of the Garduno family, which was disappointing.

Andrea Carter and the Long Ride Home is definitely a good read. An adult could finish this book in as little as a couple of hours. Seventeen short chapters allow for quick installments, and the chapters have division marks so that reading may be done in even smaller portions, if desired. Children will enjoy this glimpse into the pioneer days. This is great reading with excitement and Biblical consistency! Andi is a vivid example of courage, and she sees the power of God in her life and seeks to honor Him.

Product review by Donna Campos, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January 2008