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Land of My Heart    by Tracie Peterson order for
Land of My Heart
by Tracie Peterson
Order:  USA  Can
Bethany, 2004 (2004)

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* * *   Reviewed by Melissa Parcel

It's 1864 and the Civil War has reached its ugly hand into Missouri, where sixteen-year-old Dianne Chadwick lives with her family. When her father is accidentally shot and killed in a skirmish between Union and Rebel sympathizers, the family decides to pack up and move to the Montana Territory where Dianne's uncle lives.

The wagon journey proves to be much more difficult and heartbreaking than Dianne, her mother Susannah, and her four siblings initially imagined. They suffer great loss along the way, but also become acquainted with new friends, such as Cole Selby, one of the leaders of the wagon train. They arrive in Montana to find the situation is not as bright as they had hoped. Indians prove to be a constant threat, and also a source of prejudice for many. Do Dianne and her family have what it takes to survive the unspoiled but savage country? Will Dianne meet someone to love and be able to create a family of her own?

This is an epic story, the first in Tracie Peterson's new Heirs of Montana series. It is interesting to follow Dianne and her family over a number of years and watch the trials and tribulations of their lives in their quest to start over in a new place. Vivid descriptions of the town, the people, and the lifestyle make the reader feel a part of the story, experiencing events along with the characters. Also woven throughout the book is the story of Dianne's brother, Trenton, who stays behind in Missouri. The siblings' storylines are sometimes very similar, while at other times they have huge contrasts.

There is a strong Christian message in the story, gently presented without seeming too preachy. The struggles Dianne experiences with her faith are similar to the concerns today's readers may encounter - particularly, why does God allow bad things to happen to people who love Him? The author handles the issues with grace and clarity. Even if you don't particularly care for historical fiction, you should give Land of My Heart a try. It is filled with enough adventure, faith, romance, and drama to keep readers of all genres interested and intrigued. I can hardly wait for the next installment in the series!

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