Saturday, November 15, 2008
About the book:
Life in Sweden seems like an endless winter for three sisters after their mother's death and their father's suicide. Elin feels the weight of responsibility for her sisters' welfare and when the circumstances become unbearable, she writes to her relatives in Chicago, pleading for help.
Joining sixteen million other immigrants who left their homelands for America between 1890 and 1920, Elin, Kirsten, and Sophia begin the long, difficult journey. Enduring the ocean voyage in steerage and detention on Ellis Island, their story is America's story. And in a journey fraught with hardships, each woman will come to understand her secret longings and the meaning of home.
I've been told for several years about what a wonderful author Lynn Austin was, but I hadn't read any of her books yet even though I own five of them. Anyway, I read Until We Reach Home for the CFBA blog tour. It's a thick book so I didn't finish before the tour ended, but now that I have finished I must tell everyone what a fabulous author she is and how much I love her storytelling! How is this for an opening line... "Elin Carlson walked into the barn and everything changed." Are you hooked? I was.
Ms. Austin provides rich detail about the time period the characters are living in, but this is done in a way that draws you further in to the setting. This story had so much intrigue, suspense, peril, yearning, hope, and faith in the midst of trials that it truly inspired me. The faith journey was SO believeable. The pain they went through made a lot of sense, and I truly felt for them. My heart grieved right along with them. I found myself thinking about the story all the time until I could steal away and read more. That, to me, is the sign of a fabulous read.
I am a real sucker for romance, which is sprinkled generously throughout the book, too. Plus, the heartache and pain resulting from dysfunctional situations and sin is portrayed realistically. While not edgy in regards to the details, Ms. Austin did a magnificent job of making me care about their pain and showing how deeply they hurt. Yet she balance that by showing how that makes them love more deeply as well.
In my opinion Ms. Austin is one of the best historical fiction authors at putting her characters in impossible situations and showing how God provides a way in the midst of heartache. She shows how God allows it to make His children grow in faith, and that He is always there even if He doesn't always take away the hardship and pain. And He can transform even the hardest of hearts when people love Him and each other like the Scriptures say.
The relationship that Sophia developed with Ludwig was so amazing it took my breath away. I NEVER would've thought to draw out the character's faith and introduce them to true love through sharing God's Word the way the author managed to do. And to use the Bible as a tool to communicate between their languages was brilliant. This tender relationship was beautifully developed and one of my favorite parts of the story. It made my heart sing!
I can't say enough good things about this story. I'm definitely putting this book on my list of favorites for 2008!
Until We Reach Home was published by Bethany House and released in October 2008.