A Breath of Hope is the second book of the Under Northern Skies series by Lauraine Snelling. It continues the story of the Carlson family—Rune, Signe, Bjorn, Knute, Leif, and Kirstin—who are still adapting to their new life after leaving Norway for America in the first book. Challenges continue with the difficult uncle they had moved there to help, as their relationship with the aunt and their new community continues to grow.
At first, the book is divided between their story and a story back in Norway where other relatives put plans in motion to join them in America. Raising money for the voyage was difficult, but eventually Rune's younger siblings Nilda and Ivar were able to save enough for one ticket, the other paid on credit from uncle Einar.
When they arrive, they quickly learn about Einar's terrible temper and how the community had been pushed away. Through the book though, the family learns to stand up for themselves more and more, while still trying to be loving to their family members no matter how difficult. When Einar suffers an injury, things become even more tense with him around the house all the time. The Carlson begin to work on their new house and the community steps into help, too.
This book is called A Breath of Hope for the way that despite everything that has happened, the family works to repair relationships and support one another and the community.
The story itself is pretty slow moving, with most just telling about everyday work around the house, farm, and in the woods cutting down trees. There is some drama and scandal early on, hints of future love interests for Nilda, and things do pick up in the last three chapters. Overall, the family is an interesting one to read about, but it really drug on in the middle for me. Sometimes it seemed hastily put together, as my mother pointed out when she read it in a minor plot line of Rune attempting to make skis, he mentioned that his father had made some in Norway, but then soon after says that his father hadn't made skis.
"You made skis before?"
Rune shook his head. "We used the ones my far made but could not bring them along. I know he used hickory..." (51)
"Rune checked in the press he had build to turn up the tips of the skis after he had soaked the planes and smoothed black ash. How would he know when it was dry? If only here were someone he could ask for advice. His far had not made skis, although he made anything else that was needed out of wood." (88)
Though it doesn't affect the story at all, this and other instances made the story feel as though it were rushed. I often felt that details were provided were completely unnecessary and slowed he story down.
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed the first in the series, as I felt it was very true to the series. Though this book was a little disappointing for me, I would still look forward to reading the next in the series because of the set up this book provided for future stories.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher, but was not required to post a positive review.