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Until We Reach Home    by Lynn Austin order for
Until We Reach Home
by Lynn Austin
Order:  USA  Can
Bethany, 2008 (2008)
* *   Reviewed by Lindsey Freitas

Ever since the tragic day that their father, mourning for his dead wife, walked unhesitatingly out onto the thin ice outside their house 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. They set off with high hopes and dreams for their futures. What they find in the Land of the Free shatters their illusions 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?

Until We Reach Home delves deep into the relationships between sisters. Elin and Kirsten harbor terrible secrets, and Sofia battles a fear that shadows her heart and keeps her from truly living. This book shows us that no matter how close-knit a family is, every member views life and experiences differently. I was reminded of the importance of having mercy and compassion for each other in all circumstances.

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 would be 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. If they didn't get past the immigration officials in America they would be shipped all the way back to Sweden. With no money left and no home to return to, that would have been tragedy indeed.

Until We Reach Home gave me a new appreciation for the struggles immigrants go through, especially since many women and children have had to brave this journey all alone. Although this book moved at a pace that was at times much too slow for me, it was worth it for the history alone. I also loved the sisters' characters and wanted to see how they dealt with their struggles. I was very satisfied by the end and recommend this novel as a good read!

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