This is an interesting way of presenting a historical novel (suitable for all ages), with the basic idea being that you are being told the story of your family history, passed down through the generations.  I hope most people have had the opportunity to listen to their parent’s tales of what they did when they were young, or how they met, but not many of us, I suspect, get the story of their parents, or theirs…

Lars and his young brother have to emigrate from Norway since there isn’t enough food to support the village.  They end up with their uncle in Dakota Territory, since this is in the time before it became a state.  For this European, the whole issue of immigrants sticking together with their own church is something other people did, since my family stayed put.  It’s interesting to hear about it from the other side, so to speak.

But then it becomes much more.  It turns into a hugely exciting story of Lars overcoming adversity and the trials and tribulations of youth in a society where morals are very much to the fore and everyone is known in the community. For the middle two thirds of the book I found it really hard to put down and I was ready to award it 5 stars.  But then, although it completed that era of the family history, it finished very tamely.  I can’t help think that the younger brother’s story was somehow tacked on for length, as it added not much to the story other than a “by the way this is what happened to the kid” and nothing to the reason why they raise Belgian Horses.

Other than that it is well written – a quality story. The narrator occasionally turning up to be irritating (if you know nothing of life in Dakota today) merely helps you to take a breath and consider the way things have changed.  I recommend it, especially to young people with a taste for tales of adventure in the days when you had to do everything for yourself!

Why We Raise Belgian Horses by Kathryn Judson

Book Review: Why We Raise Belgian Horses by Kathryn Judson