My Antonia, by Willa Cather, is a fictional story based on true facts of what life was like not only for Americans who traveled West, but also for immigrants who came to America so that they could create a better life in the West. The story begins with the narrator and the main character, Jim, telling of how he came to live in Nebraska; his parents died when he was ten, and his relatives in Virginia decided to send him to live with his grandparents. He writes how life in the West is very different from the East; the neighbors are further apart, the cities are smaller, people are usually more generous and help each other out, and people are very self reliant.
This was a great book for studying the West because unlike most books, this one explained what life was like for immigrants. What a sad story it was at times, but how true it also was. Life was hard and even harder for immigrants because of language barriers and cultural differences. I enjoyed reading this fiction by Willa Cather, and was very interested when I read in her biography that she was a lesbian; I think this aspect of her own life played into the story because Jim never married a woman, nor had any romantic relationship with women besides Lena Lingard. I also know that during this time period, gay relationships were not culturally accepted. Overall, I would recommend this book to all people not just because it shows what the West was like, but also because it was a wonderful story of perseverance, despair, hope and redemption.