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Lifeblood    by Ann Funk order for
by Ann Funk
Order:  USA  Can
Daniel & Daniel, 2012 (2012)
* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Ann Funk's Lifeblood is the fictionalized story of the real life of Sarah Austen, one of the first female medical doctors in Nevada. She and her Mormon parents journey by handcart from Iowa to Great Salt Lake, a harrowing trip, only to have Sarah and her mother Emma leave Sarah's father when he proposes to take a second wife.

Sarah and her mother Emma cross the desert to Genoa, Nevada, leaving their old life behind. Barely existing certainly isn't easy but when Emma dies, Sarah has to fend for herself. Only being a teenager, she calls on her womanly skills to support herself. However, her goal in life is to become a medical doctor.

The story of how she accomplishes this with a medical teacher telling her that women's brains are at least six ounces smaller than a man's (and therefore unable to accomplish what a man can) underlines her determination to continue in her ambition to become a doctor.

It's heart wrenching at times as Sarah struggles, forgiving those who might not really have deserved forgiveness. Buoyed at times by her grit, the reader can't help but want the best for this woman who was, to all intents and purposes, alone in the world.

Lifeblood is a first novel for Funk. She has written for many publications and has a degree in creative writing from Antioch University. I could have wished for Sarah to be a little more fleshed out as at times she just didn't seem real to me. However, the novel offers a fine depiction of life in the late 1800s in a rough part of the United States. Well worth a read.

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