Here we are, into the third week of our discussion posts! I hope you are enjoying reading them as much as we are reading the books and raising the questions! :-)
For this week we will take a look at Until We Reach Home by Lynn Austin. If you haven't read this book yet, I highly encourage you to - click the link HERE to purchase it for less than $10! It was a wonderful read about three close-knit sisters!
It didn't take many pages for me to be drawn into the plight of Elin and her sisters - Kirsten and Sofia. After losing their parents, their Uncle took over their farm and made life unbearable for Elin as she tried to protect her sisters from him. Finally, when she decides to escape to America to live with her mother's favorite brother who had left for America years ago, their hard journey to America and freedom began.
I loved reading about the three sisters during their journey to America and how, even though they had their differences and dark secrets, they stuck together through it all. They grew so much after reaching America - even shy, dependent Sofia - the baby of the family - changed on the trip to America and established a career for herself so that she could help provide for her sisters.
There were 2 parts that I would urge caution for some younger readers. The reason Elin made her sisters leave with her to America was because of what her Uncle did to her and what he was about to do to her sister, Sofia. When she discovered her Uncle's eyes were beginning to turn from her to her younger sister, she imminently knew she had to leave America. Nothing is explicit or even plainly said, but what Elin had to endure at the hand of her Uncle is alluded to several times.
Another point of caution is that one of the sisters mistakenly ends up pregnant. Nothing is explained, except for when the sister begins to get sick and the doctor announces she is pregnant. At that time in history - 1897 - it was a scandal to have a child out of wedlock, and the sister has to live with her foolish actions. So, in some ways, it was a good lesson to show that actions have consequences. But, as I said, Austin handles everything so well that nothing is inappropriate.
Besides these two points, the book was great - filled with lessons, special moments, and growing periods for all three sisters. Towards the end of the book, it got kind of sad as the sisters began to branch out and build their own lives: they had been through so much together! But all in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and will certainly pick up the book again to read! I highly recommend it - Lynn Austin did a wonderful job touching lives with this story!!
BOOK DISCUSSION: So, here are the questions, and I've answered them with my own thoughts below each question. Go ahead and leave a comment with your own thoughts - I'd love to hear from you!!
1) Elin refused to share her shame with her other sisters, even when her vehemence in leaving Sweden was puzzling to Kirsten and Sofia. If you held a shameful secret, would you be the type to tell your sister/confidant or keep it to yourself?
I am only sixteen months younger than my older sister, Jessica, so she and I are incredibly close! If I had a shameful secret like Elin, I don't think I could go many days without seeking the comfort of my sisters embrace and kind words. Maybe that's because I am the younger sister - unlike Elin, who was the oldest of the three and therefore had far more responsibility in caring for her other sisters.
2) Kirsten, however tom-boyish, headstrong, and fearless she appears to be on the outside, is really a scared girl yearning for love and comfort after the death of her parents. When they begin their journey to America and Kirsten meets a young man who is also an immigrant heading to America, Kirsten is at odds with her sister and doesn't understand Elin's severe distrust of men. Which character type do you have? Kirsten: enjoys all kinds of company, both male and female, and has confidence in taking care of herself, or Elin: Shoulders all the responsibility alone and avoids accepting help or friendship from strangers?
While I don't think I am as careless as Kirsten can sometimes be, I do enjoy company of both guys and gals. Sometimes Kirsten went a bit far, and I understood Elin's carefulness - Elin reminded me SO much of my older sister!!
3) Sofia is ever the timid one and throughout the entire trip to America has her heart set on going back to Sweden - she doesn't like change and she doesn't like strange circumstances. So when she is suddenly stripped of both her securities in life - Elin and Kirsten - and left amid a bunch of strangers who don't speak Swedish, she is beside herself. What would you do if everything familiar was taken away from you - including your family who always took care of the world for you?
If I had Sofia's timid character, I think I would've been as lost as Sofia felt - or worse. I don't consider myself shy or timid, as Sofia is, but the thought of being left alone in a building full of people who didn't speak your language would be pretty terrifying! It's amazing how someone can draw on the inner strength of God to help them during the hard times - He is always there for you, no matter what...just like Sofia discovered.
Well, that's all for today! Make sure to return Wednesday for another set of questions as we talk about Elin, Kirsten, and Sofia's hardships once they land in America!