Becker • Big Lake • Clear Lake • Elk River • Princeton • St. Cloud • Zimmerman

DEEP GRASS ROOTS
BY MARCIA NEELY
REVIEWED BY 
LINDA WICKLUND

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.

Happy reading!

 

                                  

 

 


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