The story takes place alternately on the frontier of Blessing, North Dakota and Chicago in 1903. Astrid Bjorkland has been studying under her friend (and sister-in-law) Dr. Elizabeth Bjorkland for the last three years. Her family and her mentor believe she is ready to go to Chicago to medical school but Astrid struggles with leaving home and being sure that she is hearing God's calling. Then, to add to her confusion, a missionary from Africa visits her church and seems to look directly at her when speaking about the mission field and the need for medical personnel in Africa. And lastly, Joshua, a young man from her past, returns to Blessing and shows a definite interest in Astrid.
When she at last heads for medical school in the big city, Astrid is overwhelmed by so many unexpected emotions. She is homesick, horrified by the dirt and people of the city, and viewed with jealousy by many of her medical school classmates. She must deal with prejudice, the reality of poverty and homelessness, and her warring emotions about the call to Africa.
At home in Blessing, Joshua is making friends among the townspeople while dealing with his own guilt about moving west away from his family. Astrid's parents take in an orphaned Indian girl and immigrant relatives from Norway.
There is a lot going on in this book. It is the first in a new series but is also a continuation of a previous one. I had difficulty keeping the characters straight at first but once Astrid moves to Chicago, the people started sorting themselves out by family and relationships. This isn't a weakness of the book--just an observation for the reader to not start with this book of Snelling's unless you've read the previous ones.
I loved the book and hope to read the rest as they come out. I also would like to read the previous series by Lauraine Snelling. She had many messages for me in this book. At the beginning, after losing a patient she had performed surgery on, Astrid is confused about her calling to be a doctor. She and her mom are admiring the sunrise and Astrid points out the beautiful colors. Ingeborg replies that the clouds make the sunrise all the more beautiful. She doesn't preach--just makes the statement, leaving Astrid and the reader to make the connection for themselves.
Joshua had previously left Blessing because he could no longer afford his claim. When he returns he works drilling water wells and putting up windmills on farms. The descriptions of the delight in having running water for the cattle in even in the house were a reminder that many of the things we take for granted were truly miracles at one time, not so long ago. I loved the description of the housewives happy tears of joy when the water pours from the pump!
Read this book--I loved it and hope you will too.
P.S. I received this book from Bethany House to review. I love reviewing books!