Friday, April 18, 2014

Book Review: Steal the North by Heather Brittain Bergstrom

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: April 10, 2014
Publisher: Viking Adult
336 Pages

A novel of love in all its forms: for the land, for family, and the once-in-a-lifetime kind that catches two people when they least expect it

Emmy is a shy, sheltered sixteen-year-old when her mom, Kate, sends her to eastern Washington to an aunt and uncle she never knew she had. Fifteen years earlier, Kate had
abandoned her sister, Beth, when she fled her painful past and their fundamentalist church. And now, Beth believes Emmy’s participation in a faith healing is her last hope for having a child.

Emmy goes reluctantly, but before long she knows she has come home. She feels tied to the rugged landscape of coulees and scablands. And she meets Reuben, the Native American boy next door.

In a part of the country where the age-old tensions of cowboys versus Indians still play out, theirs is the kind of magical, fraught love that can only survive with the passion and resilience of youth. Their story is mirrored by the generation before them, who fears that their mistakes are doomed to repeat themselves in Emmy and Reuben. With Louise Erdrich’s sense of place and a love story in the tradition of Water for Elephants, this is an atmospheric family drama in which the question of home is a spiritual one, in which getting over the past is the only hope for the future.

Steal the North is a heartbreaking novel about family, faith, and self-discovery. Told from multiple perspectives, this book is the story of Emmy, a young girl who hasn't dared to stray off of the path that her mother has set for her. When Emmy's mother sends Emmy off to spend the summer with the aunt and uncle that the young girl didn't know existed, Emmy must come to terms with her past and find the strength to build a future, all the while figuring out what it truly means to love.

Now I have to admit that I went a bit out of my comfort zone when reading this as I am not usually a fan of books that deal with faith and religion. That was a major theme in Steal the North. I think that Heather Brittain Bergstrom handle the subject very well. She did not shove the ideals of faith in the faces of her readers, but rather gave us something about which we should think. She also used this theme to flesh out and differentiate her characters as each one sees God and religion differently.

The plot moved steadily, and I found myself captivated enough to read through the last two-thirds of the book in one night. Though I must say that I did get frustrated a few times with how the author jumps ahead weeks, months and once years in some of the chapters. I understand why the book was written that way, and I think for much of the story, it was beneficial. That being said, I was curious about what the characters were feeling in some scenes and because of the skip ahead chapters I will never know.

There was nothing in Steal the North that stood out to me in a extremely negative fashion, though I did note my slight annoyance with the "fast forward" chapters. In fact, I enjoyed the story much more than I could've imagined. It resonated with me in a way that I was not expecting. By the end of the novel, I could hardly see the pages through my tears. Steal the North is a very emotional story that I know will stick with me for some time.

The characters were so wonderfully flawed, and though each had obvious faults, it was impossible to not care for them. They were broken, and put into situations that changed their lives completely. Their journeys make for the most heart-wrenching, and inspiring tale. I loved them all, in their own way. I didn't agree with every decision they made, but no one is perfect. You can mean well, and still do something wrong--that is just one of the lessons that I learned from Steal the North. I miss these characters already, and I hope that wherever Bergstrom's imagination took them, they are happy.

I'm sure that not everyone will love this story as much as I did, but I believe that each person who picks it up with find something within the novel with which they can connect. Steal the North is riveting and extremely thought-provoking. It's a harrowing emotional journey for every character, and for the audience as well. You will learn, and think, and feel as you read. I am so happy that I was the given the chance to read this novel, because it has become a favorite of mine.
I received a copy of this novel from the publisher for my honest opinion and review.

1 comment :

  1. Thank you, Emily, for reviewing my debut novel, STEAL THE NORTH, on your book blog. I am so excited for it to reach readers such as yourself. I appreciate your support and enthusiasm. Best wishes!


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