BOOK REVIEW: The Personal History of Rachel DuPree

The Personal History of Rachel DuPreeThe Personal History of Rachel DuPree
By Ann Weisgarber
Completed July 18, 2011

Rachel Reeves was a strong-willed, hard-working woman from Chicago who wanted a better life for herself, including marrying a man with “ambition.” When her boss’s son, Isaac DuPree, came home on leave from the Army, Rachel knew she met the man she wanted to marry. Isaac was determined to improve his lot in life by planning to move to South Dakota to become a rancher. Rachel, seeing her ticket out, approached Isaac about marrying her to help him claim more land – an offer he couldn’t refuse. It was then that she became Rachel DuPree – and  her personal history as a black wife of a South Dakota rancher came alive on the page.

Rachel’s story about living in the harsh conditions of South Dakota was mesmorizing. At the time of the story, her ranch was experiencing a severe drought, and she worried about food and water for her family (which included four children and one on the way). As conditions worsened, Rachel began to yearn for life back in Chicago. For Isaac, though, returning home meant failure – he wouldn’t even consider it. Rachel began to ponder her choices, deeply torn between her children and her marriage.

A deep undertone to The Personal History of Rachel DuPree was racism. As a black family, the DuPrees experienced racism in South Dakota, but what was more pronounced was the racism toward Native Americans. Additionally, there was racism among the African Americans, where Northern blacks discriminated against blacks from the South. This book was an eye-opening look at the various forms of racism that plagued the U.S. in the early 20th century.

With its strong characters and themes, A Personal History of Rachel DuPree is a worthwhile read for anyone who likes stories that examine social issues. It was longlisted for the Orange Prize in 2010 and shortlisted for the Orange Award for New Writers. It’s definitely worthy of its accolades, and I look forward to more fiction by Ann Weisgarber. ( )


11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. BermudaOnion
    Jul 20, 2011 @ 01:56:23

    This does sound like an eye opener. Sometimes I wonder if we’ve learned anything through the years.


  2. Risa
    Jul 20, 2011 @ 02:03:05

    This sounds like a read I would enjoy. I’m currently struggling through my Orange choice…:(

    Here’s my rant of sorts…


  3. Vasilly
    Jul 20, 2011 @ 11:51:19

    I’ve been wanting to read this one since its publication date. I’m going to see if one of my libraries have a copy. Great review.


  4. Vasilly
    Jul 20, 2011 @ 11:52:50

    Ah! One of my libraries have it! I’m checking it out now. Thanks, Jill, for the reminder. 🙂


  5. Dee
    Jul 20, 2011 @ 16:05:50

    Thanks for the review, Jill. This is one I’ve noticed but didn’t know much about before.


  6. Dee
    Jul 20, 2011 @ 16:10:52


    I’ve just checked out your rant and have now added your blog to my bookmarked blogs! I know what you mean about Burnt Shadows. I liked it and I think the characters were more real to me than they were to you but there was something missing which stopped me loving it


  7. Trackback: My Orange July 2011 Reading Wrap-Up « The Magic Lasso

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