Reviewed by April Gardner
Until We Reach Home by
"Ms. Austin is always good for a thorough history lesson well disguised in the colorful robes of well-written characters."
Life in Sweden feels like an endless winter to Elin Carlson after the
deaths of her parents. When circumstances become unbearable, she determines
to find a safe haven for her sisters.
So begins their journey to America, the land of dreams and second chances.
But as hardships become their constant companion, Elin, Kirsten, and Sofia question their decision to immigrate to Chicago. Will their hopes for the future ever be realized?
~ back cover of Until We Reach Home
My one complaint about Until
We Reach Home is the inadequate summary of the book on the back cover.
Except for the author’s name on the front,
I would never have picked it up. The summary is vague and simplistic. It
could describe every other book on the shelf.
But after reading it, and traveling with these three loveable girls across miles of ocean, through hunger and fatigue, and through tests of love and friendship, I see how difficult it would be to fit everything that happens to them in a nutshell. This novel is non-stop drama. Just when you think you know the route the author is going to take, the storyline takes a drastic turn in the opposite direction. I love it when an author can surprise me, and when it happens more than once, I want to applaud!
Elin is the oldest sister. She’s responsible, to a fault, and the middle girl, Kirsten, does just that. But Elin has good reason for being so protective. She’s suffered at the hand of the man she trusted and will do anything to protect her little sisters’ innocence.
Kirsten just wants to have a good time and Elin’s prudish ways are ruining it for her, but she soon finds that her trusting ways have already caused her irreparable heartache. Will there be any way to build a new life in America after what she’s done?
Sofia is the fearful one. She’s also prone to depression, like their deceased father. Elin and Kirsten worry endlessly about her. In their attempts to make their sister smile again, they learn that only God can mend the broken pieces of the soul. But will Sofia listen to Him before she follows the path her father took?
More than anything I enjoyed Until We Reach Home for its detailed look into the life of an immigrant aboard a ship bound for the land of opportunities. I’ll never forget their experiences on Ellis Island, the lines, the exams, the health inspections, the fear of not being allowed into the country. Ms. Austin is always good for a thorough history lesson well disguised in the colorful robes of well-written characters.
I see I haven’t done a good job of summarizing the plot either. There’s just too much to tell! You’ll have to read it for yourself, and I recommend that you do.