Three amazing women were born in the year 1867. Three extraordinary women grew up to have an impact on the world and their daughters. Laura Ingalls Wilder lived in log cabins and sod dugouts across the frontier. She told stories of those days to her daughter Rose, and together they wrote those stories in books that are read and loved today. Sarah Breedlove, the daughter of former slaves, dreamed of a better life for her daughter A’Lelia. She created a beauty empire and took a new name–Madam C.J. Walker. Marie Curie left home to study science. She went on to discover radium and was the first person to win two Nobel prizes. She sent math problems to her daughter Irene, who grew up to become a scientist in her own right as well.
Jeannine Atkins explores the relationships between these mothers and daughters in Borrowed Names (Henry Holt and Company 2010). The stories are shared through poems that capture moments in the lives of these extraordinary women and their daughters. Some are moments that you can read about in history books. Other moments are grounded in household objects and everyday routines. Read together, these poems offer glimpses into lives shaped by challenges and choices in a changing world.
I thought I knew at least the basic facts of the lives of these three women, but I learned even more reading these poems. The more I read, the more my respect and admiration for these three women grew. Even though they lived such very different lives, all three women faced hardship with courage and determination. Their daughters shared the same courage and determination in continuing the work of their mothers and making it their own.