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Ugh. What a mess of epic proportions. After reading about the boatloads of Values Dissonance and Unfortunate Implications it has, I decided to read the first book on Project Gutenberg to see if it was as bad as people said. My verdict? IT IS. Dear lord, this book is very, VERY flawed, and there's practically nothing salvageable about it. Here are the three biggest things about it that make me want to bang my head against the wall.
This book is an insult to children and to religion as a whole, IMHO. I can recommend so many children's books that are far better. Bottom line, don't give this series the time of day. It's not worth it.
I actually like these books. I can't defend the racism, sexism, or "well-meaning" parental abuse, but it does give an insight to how people thought and practiced their faith in the 1860's, when these books were first published. It does romanticize the US antebellum south, which I didn't know was a thing before "Gone With The Wind". Elsie does have a strong faith, but not much else aside from her looks, which is probably why Elsie remains popular with Christian audiences to this day. And these books did give steady work to Martha Finley, who continued to write this series until shortly before her death. Also, if you want to not have to read the slave accents or the horrors of abuse Elsie is put through, stick with the "Life of Faith" reprints instead of the public domain copies. They're fairly cheap from Amazon.
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