Thursday, June 19, 2014

Steal the North by Heather Brittain Bergstrom Review

I won a giveaway from Goodreads First Reads.

"Vocally graceful and fearlessly intimate, STEAL THE NORTH, Heather Brittain Bergstrom's remarkable debut novel, is a strikingly beautiful portrait of modern identity, faith, family, and love in all its forms. 

Emmy Nolan is a sheltered and introverted sixteen-year-old living in Sacramento with her mom, Kate, when a phone call comes from an aunt she never knew existed. Fifteen years earlier, Kate had abandoned her only sibling, Beth, fleeing their tiny eastern Washington town and the fundamentalist Baptist church that had condemned her as a whore. Beth, who's pregnant for what she knows is the last time after countless miscarriages, believes her only hope to delivering the baby is Emmy's participation in a faith healing ceremony.

Emmy reluctantly goes. Despite uncovering her mom's desperate and painful past, she soon finds she has come home--immediately developing a strong bond with her aunt Beth and feeling destined to the rugged landscape. Then Emmy meets Reuben Tonasket, the Native American boy who lives next door. Though passion-filled and resilient, their love story is eerily mirrored by the generation before them, who fear that their own mistakes are doomed to repeat themselves in Emmy and Reuben.

This is a marvelously imaginative and deeply felt debut, one whose characters live at nearly intolerable levels of vulnerability. Yet, as fragile as they may seem, Bergstrom has imbued them with a tremendous inner strength, proving that the question of home is a spiritual one, that getting over the past is hope for the future, and that the bond between family is truly unbreakable."

Wow, Steal the North is exactly soap opera material. There are so many problems and feuds and hatred, that I wonder why I bothered to read this in the first place. Told from many POVs, Steal the North tells of so much and so little. Why don't I start by talking about the characters? Yeah, that is a good place to start.

Emmy is a very shy girl with a small personality and an even smaller self-esteem. She has a trash load of problems. I could barely list them all. Ooo! Let's start with her loser ex-boyfriend. Actually, I can't describe him anymore than that. He is just a loser. Then there is Reuben, who is pretty much her new best friend and soulmate. Then there is her mom, with a bucket load of problems (so many that I'm not even going to try to explain). Oh, and then there is the daddy issues. Actually, to clear it all up, I will explain to you that everyone has daddy issues. Every character in this book has daddy issues with the exception of Spencer, Matt, and a few other people. Everyone else? They have daddy issues.

Reuben is very hot (in book wise). But like most characters, he has daddy issues. His father died and he is seeing his ghost occasionally (is that a call for insanity?). And he is also very poor. Well, compared to him, Emmy looks like a rich heiress to a big oil company or something like that. Plus, he is Native American with a lot of curses on the tip of his tongue and sarcasm. He is never without words, I admit.

Emmy's mother, Kate, has too many problems. As I mention early, she has too many problems that I'm not going to try to explain. And you want to what? I'm not. But I do want to say that if it wasn't for Kate, a lot of this wouldn't happen. If it were for Kate's dad, the entire book probably would be...boring. I pretty much hold Kate and her dad as blame. Everyone else is just...collateral damage.

I must admit that I was fascinated by the texture of the cover. I was annoyed by the small text of a four hundred and up page book. But it was worth it. I suggest you grab a box of tissues. Steal the North made me cry. And the book is really good.

The story is really strong. It is mostly about finding identity and finding the courage within your heart. And it also talks about consequences of what you do. It talks about how other people are affected by what you did. It is like a chain of reaction, but the most overwhelming message is about identity. Identity, identity, and identity. It is about finding where you are and where you are going. It is about what you want and what you think you want. It is about fate and the twisted path of it. Another big part of Steal the North is faith and ignorance.

The ending of the book wasn't strong. I'm not going into anymore details. Remember spoilers?

Rating: Four out of Five

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