A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline

Christina Olsen led what many would call a small life in Maine. Suffering from an illness that makes walking difficult and eventually impossible she is a proud woman living on her own terms. Yet she knew happiness once. Once she was in love. Once she had dreams. Once she left Maine, but then she returned never to leave again. Now she and her brother are all but trapped in the family home yet Christina makes a friend who brings her to the world. Andrew Wyeth falls in love with the farmhouse, and the family, painting many views of the house and its inhabitants including painting Christina’s World; this is the story behind the famous painting.

I’ll admit it, I didn’t know the painting (helpfully there is a small print included in the book), nor am I very familiar with Andrew Wyeth’s work. However, that didn’t prevent me from enjoying this book. Christina’s life is hard, and I questioned some of her life choices, but having close experience with a person living with a debilitating disease I know that sometimes their choices don’t make sense to us, and they don’t have to, because we aren’t the ones living in their skin. This fictional biography was a character study of a strong woman and a glimpse into a time and place that was stark yet beautiful in its simplicity.

If you read this book and want to see the actual painting you’ll need to travel to MoMA in New York City. (Did you know that SCLSNJ has museum passes for MoMA? Click here for more information: http://www.somerset.lib.nj.us/museumpass.htm