All She Left Behind By Jane Kirkpatrick

Happy dance!!! A new book by Jane Kirkpatrick always excites me! Not only is she an incredible author but I love that her books are based on true stories. The real life women she chooses are so varied and interesting!
Jennie Lichtenthaler’s story is proof that your circumstances and education have nothing to do with your ability to succeed! She was one of the first female doctors in the state of Oregon. That in itself is an amazing achievement considering women doctors in the 1800’s were shunned and not accepted. As I read her story, her success became extraordinary! Since her childhood her interest in herbs, medicine and natural healing had been a driving force. Not only to learn but to heal others. She never gives up her dream to become a doctor even in the face of insurmountable odds. Jennie’s family and husband drag her confidence even lower with the criticism and treatment of her. Married at a young age to an abusive alcoholic and drug addict her life held few opportunities. She has a learning disability, though the story never really says what it is. It makes reading and retaining written material difficult. Her son suffers the mental effects of the father’s addictions and is challenging to handle.
After her first husband divorces here which left her in poverty and social shame during that time, it opens the door to meet the love of her life, her second husband Josiah Parrish. He was a wealthy, influential minister. He had children that were grown and grandchildren so he was many year older than her. The vast difference in age had no bearing on the depth of their love and devotion. Each brought the other much joy and fulfillment. His love and belief in her led her to accomplish her dream and become a doctor.
As usual Ms. Kirkpatrick does an in-depth historical research, she leaves no stone unturned about her characters. I admired Jennie’s strength and faith in all the sufferings she was dealt. No matter what was thrown at her or how her heart broke, she kept moving forward, doing what needed to be done to survive. She never gave into self-pity or bitterness. Her loving attitude and sweet spirit was not affected by abuse or adversity. An extraordinary book!

The Promise of Dawn By Lauraine Snelling

This book was amazing! It is 1909 and immigrants from all over the world were coming to America seeking a better life. Many family members went ahead and made the way for others to come. This was the case for Rune, Signe Carlson and their 3 sons. Their dream was to come to the U.S. from Norway to own land and have their own farm. Their opportunity came when Einar Strand, Rune’s uncle sends a letter to his parents. He has settled in Minnesota. The land he is homesteading is covered in huge pine trees. He needs help logging them and sending them to mills. His wife Gerd is ill and he requests for Rune and his family to move there and help. There is the promise of a home already built and large enough for all of them to live in, a school for children, and the understanding that after their tickets were paid back they would receive their own land. The
Carlson’s had never met the Strands, but they were family right? Norwegian Families were close and caring, right?
The summer voyage is very difficult and uncomfortable and to make matters more challenging, Signe is pregnant with her fourth child. After previous miscarriages she is concerned about losing the baby. The worse is yet to come though. Arriving at Uncle Einar’s is when the nightmare begins. There is not a proper room other than the cold attic for the family to sleep in. The house is filthy and Aunt Gerd is bed fast and declining because of lack of care. Einar is hateful, uncaring and demanding. He has not concern for the young family’s needs or even health. Aunt Gerd is constantly hollering for something and speaks little otherwise. She is also ungrateful for any kindnesses and very uncooperative. The promises go up in smoke and the Carlson’s find themselves as nothing more than slaves with no end in sight.
The author captures the minute details of day to day life in this era and the emotions and struggles of Rune and Signe. I even got tired reading about all the work they did, especially Signe and with expecting a child! I hurt for her missing and needing her loving family. She was so alone.
In addition to being a delightful read, the most powerful part of this book is their Christ like attitudes Carlsons (even their children) in the face of constant cruelty and abuse. What a testimony!!! They kept their words kind, and continued to do their very best work. The patience the family displayed was incredible! Yes they became aggravated and upset but chose to give a soft answer or turn the other cheek. Their children followed their example in word and action with maturity far beyond their years. A strong faith in God and living His Word were their foundation. I admired them so much! I cannot wait for the sequel!
I received this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.