Review of “Jump-Off Creek”

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In The Jump-Off Creek, readers are introduced to the Blue Mountains and the challenging pioneer life through the story of Lydia Sanderson. A widow from Pennsylvania, Lydia ventures westward to settle in a decrepit homestead. Alongside other characters, she confronts the unforgiving forces of nature, financial struggles, and occasional conflicts with each other as they strive for survival in the harsh wilderness of Oregon.

The story is expressed vividly with precise detail and 1800s slang. However, I did not find a reason to care because the characters are emotionally inhibited. Gloss attempts to engage readers with Lydia’s diary entry, which includes 1800s slang, sparks curiosity, and reveals Lydia’s personality and education through her writing: “6 April Bought the black hinny Mule today, $18, also the spavint gray as my money is so short and I have hope he will put on wt, his eyes are clear w a smart look in them and his feet not tender. Believe I am now outfitted, shall start out at Day Break.” (1) She then proceeds to depict each character, their environment, and their integration within it: “He was cold and wet, and the best part of the day had been used up anyway.

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He used the grass to clean his hands before riding the pinto horse back home. However, he found little comfort waiting for him there. The house, located on the high bench, was silent and dark under the rain. Jack’s horse appeared sad and tired within the rope fence, but there was no smoke coming out of the stove (28).

“The example above showcases Gloss’s skill in description but lacks in conveying her characters’ emotions. For instance, when Lydia sheds a few dry tears, it surprises her as she reflects on the lost babies and the feeling of loneliness. However, Gloss fails to evoke the reader’s empathy towards Lydia’s emotional state, expressing it too dispassionately (82).”

After some time, the bear’s tracks shifted to the west and brought her down to the North Fork of the Meacham along a rough and direct path. The trail adjacent to the creek was flattened and widened by hardened mud, with visible marks left only after the recent heavy rain. She observed for a brief moment but without any hope, eventually abandoning the idea of heading towards Tim Whiteaker’s.

The presence of a bear near my goats has caused me concern. I am curious if you have also noticed this bear in your area. When unable to conceal her fear, she rode her mule back along Jump-Off Creek to her home. For the following two or three days, she had difficulty sleeping and kept a loaded shotgun nearby, placed on a small rug under her bed. This passage exemplifies Gloss’s talent for vivid descriptions, while also highlighting the absence of expected emotions in a potentially dangerous situation. (68)

Lydia is currently monitoring a bear that attacked her goats. A normal person would feel a heightened sense of fear, but Gloss, as usual, downplayed this emotion in her writing. While Gloss effectively portrays the challenges of an independent pioneer woman’s battle for survival, she overlooks an essential aspect of storytelling – the portrayal of character emotions.

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Review of “Jump-Off Creek”. (2018, Apr 06). Retrieved from

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