Original Books

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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Until We Reach Home by Lynn Austin

Elin Carlson is determined to find a new life for herself and her two sisters, Karen and Sofia, in America. Their uncle has paid their passage from Sweden to Chicago, so Elin wants to take the chance at freedom while she has it. Her sisters are none too happy about the arrangement, but they reluctantly board the ship to America when the time comes. With only a trunk full of possessions and the clothes on their backs, the sisters Carlson believe that everything they need lies in America. However, they are proven wrong when trouble meets them at every turn and they find themselves as house maids employed by a grumpy old woman. Elin wonders if she made a mistake, but she does not know what secrets her sisters are hiding from her-or what awaits her around the next bend.

As is her custom, Lynn Austin has crafted another historical epic driven by good characters yet tainted by a predictable end. The only difference in Until We Reach Home and her other historical epics is that it does not jump back and forth from the past and the present, but stays on the same timeline the entire time. Otherwise, this is classic Lynn Austin fiction.

Elin, Karen, Sofia, and most of the other characters all have well-developed personalities. If an author is to follow a similar pattern with every book, developing good characters is a good pattern to be stuck on. There is no villain in this plot, as is the case with most Lynn Austin plots. I may sound like a broken record when it comes to Lynn Austin characters, but there is honestly nothing else to say about her superb character development.

The plot records the Carlson sisters' journey from Sweden across the Ocean and through America to Chicago, but does not revert to the past as is Lynn Austin's norm. The second half of the book is spent in an uncharacteristic situation for Lynn Austin but nonetheless interesting and creative. As usual, the end of the book is its downfall, though it is not entirely bad. It is partly ambiguous but it is not creative as it should be. Endings have always been Lynn's downfall, and nothing has changed here.

Nevertheless, as usual, Lynn Austin has written a memorable plot that is definitely worth a read. If she continues writing these types of books all her writing career, I have nothing to complain about.

4.5 stars

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