For my very first review, I read the first book in the Homesteaders series, A Long Journey to a New Home. My response to it at the time was a bit tepid. My basic conclusion was, the book was alright, if you like that sort of thing. Many of the things I said about the first book hold true for this one as well, but at the same time, I warmed up to Will Spring Come? in a way I didn’t with the first book.
Since both books were written for children, I still think it’s strange that there are no pictures. I’m still sticking to my point that this book would be better for English as a second language learners. But while A Long Journey to a New Home felt to me like it had been cut using a pattern, Will Spring Come? seemed less formulaic.
The first book recounted the Ytterhorn family’s voyage to America. The second book is about what they did when they got there. As it turns out, eking a living out of uncultivated land, when there are almost no people around, isn’t exactly a cake walk. Since my strongest survival skill is the ability to navigate using a GPS, I’m always impressed by stories where people manage to survive in the wilderness with nothing but hard work and ingenuity. In this story, the Ytterhorns and their new neighbors have only a few months to
build shelters, collect fuel, and store enough food to last the winter. (My winter survival skills are tested by driving a car without Autostart.)
One thing I admired a lot more this time around was Esther Allen Peterson’s narrative style. In my first review, I complained that her style was too simple. She relies on small words and short, declarative sentences. In this book, I can appreciate how the style reflects the substance. The book is crisp and direct. A character said this. And then that happened.
Which led to a certain result. Peterson doesn’t dwell much on her characters’ inner dialogue, and she wouldn’t touch melodrama with a ten foot pole. Which, when you’re dealing with an outbreak of smallpox, can be tempting. The style seemed designed to fit the story. After all, who has time to grieve when the fields still need to be planted and the baby still needs to be fed?
At the risk of giving things away, but Peterson is developing a habit of ending each book with a wedding, even when there are no available characters at the beginning. She also likes to play with the idea of forging new families out of the relics of the old.
I can’t say for sure whether Peterson is starting to hit her stride in this book, or whether I’m just learning to appreciate her more. But I did enjoy Will Spring Come? In a way that I couldn’t with the first book. There are three books in the series; my next project might be finding out where the characters end up.
Title: Will Spring Come?
Author: Esther Allen Peterson
Publisher: Royal Fireworks Press