DEEP GRASS ROOTS
REVIEWED BY LINDA
I have read two other books in recent times, but
when I read this book I couldn't wait to get it
out to you. It's author has published other essays
and books on herbs and cooking, but I believe this
is her first novel. It was also interesting to me
because she is a Minnesotan who wrote a
fictionalized version about two very strong,
courageous women with a dream. Can you imagine two
21 year old women leaving their family and
comforts of home in Minnesota to go to
northwestern North Dakota in 1900?
The story begins with Tillie Melbakken and
Bertha Harstad corresponding with a fellow
Minnesotan who had already staked a claim in North
Dakota in a Norwegian community. He encouraged
them to come to the community if they were sure
they had the "strength and stamina" to take on the
challenge. As Tillie and Bertha board the train to
begin their adventure they are both excited, but
Bertha admits, ""it's natural to be a bit afraid"
as they travel west. Fortunately, Hans and Henry
were there as promised to help them get settled.
They assured the "girls" as they were referred to,
that in just a few days they would put up
temporary huts for them for shelter until their
shacks were built. The men dumped hay into the
tiny hut for them to sleep upon. So, for the
remainder of the book they refer to going to bed
as "hitting the hay".
As the book continues you meet a wealth of
characters who are members of the Norwegian
community and become Tillie and Bertha's extended
family. The people of the community seem so real
that you feel connections with their friends and
feel their joy or pain as if you knew them also.
From this point on you'll continue the journey
through good times and tragedies which the girls
encounter as time goes by. Their hard work and
strong faith carries them through as they not only
work the land, but start a school in their tar
paper shacks for the children of the community.
Who would guess there was even time for a little
romance? One other interesting note from the
Author is that Tillie Hagenstad Stoen was the
Mother of Ms. Neely's adopted Father.
I think I'll leave you here by saying that
I've read many books and rarely have I read one
where the characters are so real and the
descriptions are so beautifully written that you
can picture the people and their surroundings in a
very special way.
Thanks Sue for sharing this very special
book with me.