Title: "The Promise of Dawn; Under Northern Skies"

Author: Lauraine Snelling

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers

Fans of Lauraine Snelling's previous novels to the completion of the stories of the Bjorkland families in North Dakota will rejoice at her latest novel set in Northern Minnesota. This new story has a family emigrating from Norway and looking forward to a better life in America.

Rune and Signe Carlson receive word from their Uncle Einar in Minnesota that he needs help on his land and someone to care for his ailing wife. He offers to pay the passage for the entire family, if they come to help. The understanding is that Rune and the three boys, ages 15, 10 and 7, when not in school, will work for him while pregnant Signe cares for the house and her invalid Auntie Gerd. The Carlsons are expected to repay the funds with their labor, with the goal of earning their own farmland when that commitment is completed.

Their welcome to Minnesota is less than cordial. The wagon has barely stopped at the Strand farm when Einar gives orders to everyone for chores to be done immediately, with Signe charged with making supper. The stove is cold and dirty. The woodbox is empty, the ash box overflowing. The coffee pot, the table and the whole house are filthy and the cupboards full of mouse turds.

Aunt Gerd is even more demanding than her husband, plus she and the bedroom stinks as bad as the outhouse. There is no welcome for the Carlson family, no preparedness for their coming, no beds to sleep in and no friendly neighbors.

"The Promise of Dawn" is a story of the Carlsons' day-to-day struggles, small victories and their faith in God and each other. Signe gradually gets a reluctant Gerd to sit up and even walk a few steps. Einar is obsessed with putting in 12-hour days cutting trees with no time off. There is also the challenge of a new baby and conflict regarding the boys attending school.

The story takes an unexpected twist when the Carlsons finally rebel at being injured and overworked. Uncle Einar threatens eviction and has the local sheriff come to the farm to serve the Carlsons with the papers proving breach of contract. Rune and Signe's grit and determination to make new lives for themselves in America in spite of difficulties is an inspiring and fast-moving novel, which shows "The Promise of Dawn" to its readers.

Virginia Luger lives in Bismarck.

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