Saturday, December 7, 2013

A Real Story of a Real Family

Book Review: The Distancers by Lee Sandlin

According to the commercials put out by a certain genealogy website, your family secrets are only a mouse-click away.
If only that were true.

While some public records ARE available online, they are often filled with misspellings, incorrect dates, and other errors. And even if that were not the case, they are still public records. The real family stories, the ones that really matter, are the ones that are not in plain sight.

In The Distancers, Lee Sandlin exposes some of his family's untold and unseen stories and brings his own past to life. Life for an immigrant family in 19th century America was full of challenges - some rose to meet them, others took the path of least resistance. One family member might diligently work at the opportunities that presented themselves, while a sibling might decide to coast on the work of others. In other words, times (and people) then were not much different than today.

Sadly, not everyone's family has made a mark on the history of this country that can be found in history books. The people that built the railroads and the highways and the factories were not the knighted individuals that made the fortunes and whose names are known to all; the people that built this country were (and are) the ones that did the every day business of working and living. What we see in The Distancers are the people that went the distance, and still do, keeping the wheels of progress turning. Every family has left a legacy, if not in the history books, then in those who still bear their name, and their heritage. That is what real families, and real family history are made of.