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These is My Words by Nancy Turner November 6, 2006

Posted by pvccbookclub in Current Discussion.

Sarah Agnes Prine is an illiterate 17-year-old at the beginning of this wild-west adventure, but she grows up to become a wise, resilient, pioneer woman. Her amazing story is revealed via diary entries that chronicle her family’s journey from the New Mexico Territory to a ranch outside of Tucson, AZ. The story is based on the real life diary of the author, Nancy Turner’s great-grandmother.

At first Sarah’s diary entries are filled with grammatical errors and misspellings as she struggles to learn to read and write. But her story is never unexciting, filled as it is with Indian attacks, amputations, snakebites, and other dangers of pioneer life. The story is no less interesting once Sarah and her family arrive in Tucson and begin to build their new life. The interaction between Sarah and Captain Jack Elliot, their wagon trade guide and her future husband, is lively and romantic. This is a must-read for all Arizonans, as well as fans of historical fiction.

Questions to consider for discussion:

1) Sarah is relentless in her quest to educate herself. Why do you think this is so? How does it change her relationships with her family and friends?

2) What is the significance of Sarah’s interest in “The Duchess of Warwick and Her Sorrow by the Sea”?

3) Sarah and her sister-in-law, Savannah are very close and yet their views on religion are very different. How is each woman sustained by their respective views on theology?

4) How did you feel when Sarah marries Jimmy? Why does she marry him? Do you think their marriage ever had a chance to succeed?

5) What makes Jack and Sarah such a perfect match? Why is their wedding gift of time pieces significant?

6) Does Sarah fit your traditional definition of a “heroine”? What characteristics about her do you like or dislike?



1. Paula - November 6, 2006

This has been on my top ten list now for several years. It is just such an engaging and interesting story!

2. Brigida - November 18, 2006

I started reading “These is My Words” a year ago and found that it was difficult to read, but quite interesting. The reader gets the true picture of the “wild west”. There is so much sorrow and violence.

Nancy Turner came to GCC campus as a guest lecturer in a history class (HIS105-Arizona History), and I got the chance to sit in the class. One of her comments to the class was that the old west really was wild and brother could turn against brother. It was truly survival of the fittest and that’s why this book is such a valuable work. It gives a black and white picture of life back then.

I have the sequel to the book and I am determined to read both books–the first one again! It is an intense read, but well worth it.

3. Paula - November 18, 2006

It appears that “These is My Words” is being considered as the OneBookAZ book selection for April 2007. To find out more about OneBookAZ and to vote on your top pick, visit their webpage at:


4. Lori - November 22, 2006

I love this book. I just had to keep reading to find out what was going to happen next. I don’t usually get so drawn into a story, but this one had me cheering, crying and laughing. I guess it meant more since I could relate to the areas that were introduced in the book and this made it feel so real. I do feel that this book is not for everyone, but it gave me a good roller coaster ride!

5. cil kenyon - September 12, 2007

What a beautiful story!! I have told everyone I come in contact with about it. I put myself in so many of the situations as Sarah . I couldn’t put it down– always wanting to know what happens next. I love how beautifully the author writes of the love Sarah and Jack had for each other. I have yearned for it– Have been married for 28 years and can see how wonderful that would be like. Married life sent on fruit farm and can relate to so many of the things the family did and endure. Had 6 children and feel like Sarah did about her kids. Can’t say enough about it!! These …Words was our book club book this month!!!

6. Sonja Haller - January 24, 2008

Hi all,
I’m a reporter with the Arizona Republic and working on a story about “These is My Words” being named the 2008 OneBook AZ. I want to talk to people who read the book and found this Web site.
If you would like to share you thoughts on the book please email me with a daytime phone number so I can give you a call.
Thank you,
Sonja Haller

7. Sonja Haller - January 24, 2008

Sorry, I didn’t know if this message made my email available. It is sonja.haller@arizonarepublic.com.

8. Reba Nelson - March 1, 2008

Hi Sonja. I enjoyed the book. Has anyone noted the powerful rebuttal of religous faith that is a theme running through the entire work? At the beginning Sarah comments that God doesn’t seem to hear her prayers so self reliance is her only alternative. And after the church service where she ”repents” she concludes that the churning in her stomach is not the Spirit of God but just the ordinary scours. At the end she turns around at the church door to the cheers of the children. If you or any other readers would like to discuss this I’d be interested in talking to you.
Have you read GAP CREEK by Robert Morgan? I liked it much better than THESE IS… Also, THE ILLUMINATOR by Brenda Vantrease is a must read.
Hope to hear from you.

9. Janet - April 23, 2011

I have read all 3 books that now make up this series. And wonderful stories they are. But what I especially like is that the novels are based on the real life story of the author’s great-grandmother. That makes them very special. I have just returned from a holiday trip to Scottsdale – this was such a contrast to the pioneer experience of Nancy Turner’s forebears. I would like to find other books of this nature.

10. dofus hack - July 15, 2013

Heya now i am for the first time here. I uncovered this specific table i think it is really valuable & it forced me to be away very much. I’m hoping to provide something just as before and support others as you aided my family.

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