Until We Reach Home by Lynn Austin
Bethany House (October 2008)
This is an excerpt of my review – you can read the full review here at BookLoons.
Ever since the tragic day that their father, mourning for his dead wife, walked unhesitatingly out onto the thin ice outside their house and to his death, life in Sweden has become unbearable for sisters Elin, Kirsten, and Sofia. Their only hope lies with an uncle who has offered to pay their passage to America, and they set off with high hopes and dreams for their futures. What they find in the “Land of the Free” shatters their hopes and threatens to shatter their faith as well. Will the hardships these brave girls face in America be more than this little family can survive?
The journey from Sweden to America was what interested me most – I found the historical detail intriguing! I hadn’t realized how brave the immigrants were, and how much it meant to them to come to America. Imagine moving to an alien land where no one spoke your language! That alone is intimidating, but the girls had to deal with the fear of getting lost, missing their buses or boats, being stuffed into ship’s steerage with a thousand other people for weeks, caring for each other if they fell sick, not being able to trust anyone, and extreme anxiety as they awaited the immigrant inspection in America. If they didn’t get past the immigration officials in America they would be shipped all the way back to Sweden! Most of the time they had no money left and no home left to go to, so that would have been tragedy indeed.