I truly enjoyed learning more about this time in American History, in a part of the land where everyone knows every neighbor, even though the closest may be miles away. It was, by far, a much simpler time, when children would spend hours exploring the land, skipping rocks across the surface of small, still ponds, or lay back in the grasses of the open fields and watch clouds drift casually past, and Cather brings this to life magnificently. At first, the relationship between Jim and Antonia is mostly a platonic, 'best-friend' kind of relationship, though it is obvious, even at the young age they are in the beginning of the story, that there is a deep love shared between the two. And, to ensure I do not require spoiler alerts for this review, I'll leave it at that.
By far my favorite part of this book was the style of writing. It was, as I've said already, one of the smoothest transitioning stories I've ever read. There is just enough dialogue, just enough descriptions of the important people and places, and just enough inner reflections of the main character to understand his emotional state during the events that transpire. My least favorite part is that, sticking to the first person narrative, there is far less understanding of the other characters, and I would have really liked to get to know several of them at a much deeper level than was provided. All in all, however, I have to give this book FOUR STARS, and have no difficulty seeing why it is included in some of the 'must read' lists of classic literature.