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Steal the North: A Novel
     

Steal the North: A Novel

4.3 3
by Heather Brittain Bergstrom
 

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A novel of love in all its forms: for the land, for family, and the once-in-a-lifetime kind that catches two people when they least expect it

Emmy is a shy, sheltered sixteen-year-old when her mom, Kate, sends her to eastern Washington to an aunt and uncle she never knew she had. Fifteen years earlier, Kate had abandoned her sister, Beth, when she fled

Overview

A novel of love in all its forms: for the land, for family, and the once-in-a-lifetime kind that catches two people when they least expect it

Emmy is a shy, sheltered sixteen-year-old when her mom, Kate, sends her to eastern Washington to an aunt and uncle she never knew she had. Fifteen years earlier, Kate had abandoned her sister, Beth, when she fled her painful past and their fundamentalist church. And now, Beth believes Emmy’s participation in a faith healing is her last hope for having a child.

Emmy goes reluctantly, but before long she knows she has come home. She feels tied to the rugged landscape of coulees and scablands. And she meets Reuben, the Native American boy next door.

In a part of the country where the age-old tensions of cowboys versus Indians still play out, theirs is the kind of magical, fraught love that can only survive with the passion and resilience of youth. Their story is mirrored by the generation before them, who fears that their mistakes are doomed to repeat themselves in Emmy and Reuben. With Louise Erdrich’s sense of place and a love story in the tradition of Water for Elephants, this is an atmospheric family drama in which the question of home is a spiritual one, in which getting over the past is the only hope for the future.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
01/27/2014
Award-winning short story author Bergstrom makes a strong debut with her first novel. Emmy Nolan, a shy teenager brought up by a tough single mother in Sacramento, Calif., doesn’t even know she has living relatives until her aunt tracks her mother down and begs for Emmy to attend a faith-healing ceremony—the aunt’s last chance, she believes, to carry a child to term after countless miscarriages. Emmy is shocked to discover that her mother was raised in a fundamentalist church and shunned by family and community after giving birth to Emmy while she was in high school. Once she arrives at her aunt’s home in eastern Washington State, Emmy feels like a fraud (her aunt thinks she’s both a Christian and a virgin; Emmy is neither), but grows to love her aunt and uncle, as well as Reuben, the Native American teenager next door. The book is far more than a story of love or belief, and its layers are peeled away as the narrative progresses. Chapters are written from the perspectives of several different characters (at times it feels like there are too many different points of view), often in second person, and the choice of present tense works. Emmy’s self-involvement makes it difficult, at times, to remain completely in her corner. Reuben is by far the most charismatic character in the book. But Bergstrom takes the reader so deeply into the characters that it’s easy to forgive the few things that don’t work, because much of the book works so well. (Apr.)
From the Publisher
“Her outstanding debut novel, Steal the North, is almost guaranteed to add to Bergstrom’s award collection…The passion, spiritual connection and once-in-a-lifetime love that Reuben and Emmy share makes the reader’s heart ache—and could secure Steal the North a spot on the bookshelves of discerning teens.”
Bookpage

"You feel the landscape of Eastern Washington in nearly every chapter of this astonishingly assured debut novel from Heather Brittain Bergstrom… [an] affectionate and authentic-feeling tribute to the land and people of Moses Lake, the Colville Reservation, the early settlers and the tribes they displaced, and the author’s big-hearted passionate characters."
—Seattle Times

“Bergstrom’s magnetic debut resonates on several levels, but first and foremost it is a poignant story of the love between two mismatched teens. The reader becomes involved in this thoroughly engaging first novel’s denouement because of how perceptively Bergstrom has drawn her central characters.”
Booklist, starred review

“The combination of emotional power and environmental and sociopolitical commentary might remind some readers of Barbara Kingsolver.”
Library Journal

“A carefully crafted family drama”
Kirkus
 
“A strong debut… The book is far more than a story of love or belief, and its layers are peeled away as the narrative progresses. Bergstrom takes the reader so deeply into the characters.”
Publishers Weekly

"Bergstrom reminds us that the landscape is more than just a scenic backdrop; it is also the thing that anchors us to our lives.” 

— High Country News

“A heartrending exploration of longing, loyalty and love. With palpable sympathy, Bergstrom captures the rugged and desolate atmosphere of eastern Washington and the distinctive people who call that place home.” 
Christina Schwarz, bestselling author of Drowning Ruth and The Edge of the Earth

“Heather Brittain Bergstorm’s debut Steal the North is one of those rare novels that has everything. It’s about family, the ties that bind us no matter how hard we sometimes try to escape. It’s about love: between mothers and daughters, between sisters, between men and women--most memorably between a young Native American man and a white Californian girl, a Romeo and Juliet story on an eastern Washington reservation. Most of all, it has a rich sense of place, of how we find our homes in the soil, in our roots, in the places we’ve left and in other people. This is a resonant, powerfully moving novel.”
Jenna Blum, New York Times bestselling author of Those Who Save Us and The Stormchasers

“A shimmering debut about the ties that bind, and the bonds that save us, especially when we least expect it. Shattering, romantic, and deeply profound, (and how many books can claim such adjectives?) Bergstrom’s novel lays a dazzlingly original claim to the unpredictable landscape of the human heart.”
Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Is This Tomorrow and Pictures of You
 
“In Steal The North, Heather Brittain Bergstrom has written the kind of debut novel one longs to read—full of crooked fates, hopeful hearts, and the bitten courage it takes to thrive—a tale, ultimately, of redemption.”
Carol Edgarian, New York Times bestselling author of Three Stages of Amazement

“A sweeping debut novel of love and faith, tragedy and redemption, and above all, the meaning of home.  Bergstrom has captured the spirit of the American west as well as the complicated ties between mothers and daughters, between sisters, and especially the all-consuming bond of first love.  Unforgettable.”
Kathleen Grissom, New York Times bestselling author of The Kitchen House

“Heather Brittain Bergstrom’s visceral first novel, a story of love too powerful to die, haunts me.  Steal the North stole my heart.”
Sandra Dallas, New York Times bestselling author of Fallen Women
 
Steal the North is out to steal our hearts.   An intimate look at the struggles of love and hard choices: whether to run away or face life full on.  Bergstrom allows us to see both sides of big choices—following one’s heritage, religion, family, true love, or breaking away to find one’s own path.” 
Sarah Willis, author of Some Things That Stay
 
“Nothing short of magical. A chorus of beguiling voices gifts us both a swoon-worthy story of first love, and a smart, addictive family drama. Bergstrom’s considerable talent is evident in every page, every line.”
Samuel Park, author of This Burns My Heart
 
“In Steal the North, Heather Brittain Bergstrom has created a richly detailed, emotionally intricate love story set in the windswept scablands of Eastern Washington. Steeped in the myth of the land and the lore of family, and exploring questions of love and faith, this novel is sexy, raw, and heartbreaking.”
Keija Parssinen, author of The Ruins of Us

Kirkus Reviews
2014-02-06
Young love springs up in a place where older hearts were bruised, in Bergstrom's debut saga. Raised motherless under the influence of a fundamentalist Baptist church in eastern Washington state, sisters Kate and Bethany Nolan grew up close, and when Kate needed help after a teenage love affair left her pregnant and alone, condemned from the pulpit and prostituting herself at a local truck stop, Bethany helped her and her baby, Emmy, leave for a new life in California. Now, 16 years later, Kate asks Emmy to return to Bethany, who is childless after many miscarriages, to take part in a healing ceremony to bless her latest pregnancy. Shy, relocated to relatives she never knew existed, Emmy finds herself in a rural community where she feels a sense of belonging and is befriended by Reuben, a Native American boy. Narrated, sometimes distractingly, from multiple perspectives, the novel considers several relationships—Bethany's solid marriage, tested by her religious beliefs and yearning for children; Kate's struggle to accept a permanent relationship; Emmy's discovery of mutuality with Reuben. Bergstrom's emphasis on sentiment and issues lends a downbeat note to the storytelling, which is intensified when tragedy strikes and only partly dissipates by the drawn-out but happy conclusion. A carefully crafted family drama that dwells more on the difficult journey than the glad arrival.
Library Journal
05/01/2014
Raised by single mom Kate in Sacramento, CA, 16-year-old Emmy believes she has no other family until Kate informs her that she'll be spending the summer in eastern Washington with Kate's sister, Beth. Still a member of the fundamentalist Christian sect that Kate left Washington to escape, Beth has suffered numerous miscarriages and wants Emmy to participate in a healing ceremony so that she can carry her current pregnancy to term. While staying with Beth and her husband, Matt, Emmy meets and falls in love with Reuben, a Cayuse Indian trying to walk the fine line between respecting his cultural traditions and distancing himself from the poverty and low expectations of reservation life. Reuben is such a well-drawn character that he takes over the story. VERDICT Bergstrom's debut novel is filled with damaged women and the almost impossibly supportive and understanding men (including Matt, Reuben, and Kate's boyfriend Spencer) who love them. The combination of emotional power and environmental and sociopolitical commentary might remind some readers of Barbara Kingsolver.—Christine DeZelar-Tiedman, Univ. of Minnesota Libs., Minneapolis

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780670786183
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
04/10/2014
Pages:
336
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.60(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Related Subjects

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
“A heartrending exploration of longing, loyalty and love. With palpable sympathy, Bergstrom captures the rugged and desolate atmosphere of eastern Washington and the distinctive people who call that place home.” 
Christina Schwarz, bestselling author of Drowning Ruth and The Edge of the Earth

“Heather Brittain Bergstorm’s debut Steal the North is one of those rare novels that has everything. It’s about family, the ties that bind us no matter how hard we sometimes try to escape. It’s about love: between mothers and daughters, between sisters, between men and women—most memorably between a young Native American man and a white Californian girl, a Romeo and Juliet story on an eastern Washington reservation. Most of all, it has a rich sense of place, of how we find our homes in the soil, in our roots, in the places we’ve left and in other people. This is a resonant, powerfully moving novel.”
Jenna Blum, New York Times bestselling author of Those Who Save Us and The Stormchasers

“A shimmering debut about the ties that bind, and the bonds that save us, especially when we least expect it. Shattering, romantic, and deeply profound, (and how many books can claim such adjectives?) Bergstrom’s novel lays a dazzlingly original claim to the unpredictable landscape of the human heart.”
Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Is This Tomorrow and Pictures of You
 
“In Steal The North, Heather Brittain Bergstrom has written the kind of debut novel one longs to read—full of crooked fates, hopeful hearts, and the bitten courage it takes to thrive—a tale, ultimately, of redemption.”
Carol Edgarian, New York Times bestselling author of Three Stages of Amazement

“A sweeping debut novel of love and faith, tragedy and redemption, and above all, the meaning of home.  Bergstrom has captured the spirit of the American west as well as the complicated ties between mothers and daughters, between sisters, and especially the all-consuming bond of first love.  Unforgettable.”
Kathleen Grissom, New York Times bestselling author of The Kitchen House

“Heather Brittain Bergstrom’s visceral first novel, a story of love too powerful to die, haunts me.  Steal the North stole my heart.”
Sandra Dallas, New York Times bestselling author of Fallen Women
 
Steal the North is out to steal our hearts.   An intimate look at the struggles of love and hard choices: whether to run away or face life full on.  Bergstrom allows us to see both sides of big choices—following one’s heritage, religion, family, true love, or breaking away to find one’s own path.” 
Sarah Willis, author of Some Things That Stay
 
“Nothing short of magical. A chorus of beguiling voices gifts us both a swoon-worthy story of first love, and a smart, addictive family drama. Bergstrom’s considerable talent is evident in every page, every line.”
Samuel Park, author of This Burns My Heart
 
“In Steal the North, Heather Brittain Bergstrom has created a richly detailed, emotionally intricate love story set in the windswept scablands of Eastern Washington. Steeped in the myth of the land and the lore of family, and exploring questions of love and faith, this novel is sexy, raw, and heartbreaking.”
Keija Parssinen, author of The Ruins of Us

Meet the Author

Heather Brittain Bergstrom has won fiction awards from The Atlantic Monthly, The Chicago Tribune, Narrative Magazine, and others, and a story was named a distinguished and notable story for The Best American Short Stories in 2010. Her short fiction has been published in several literary journals and anthologies. She holds an MFA in creative writing. She is from eastern Washington and now resides in northern California.

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Steal the North: A Novel 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy of this novel. I finished it in one night. Captures your heart from the start. A novel you never want to end and characters that stay with you long after you are finshed reading it. I am buying a copy for my friend who loves to discuss novels as much as I do. This type of friend and this type of novel are few and far between.
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings A heavy book that hits a lot of big subjects that can impact a teen's life.  Emmy is the main character and she is sent to an aunt's house that she never even knew existed to spend a summer where her mother and aunt grew up surrounded by the life that her mother escaped.  She must learn about the past and decide what path she wants for herself. Told through almost every character's perspective, I enjoyed getting each of their point of views.  They each were able to share their side of the story while at the same time moving the story along.  With all of the basic teen angst subjects, there was an addition due to the location - the tension with American Indians and "white people."  I have not read a book that addressed this still current topic, so I enjoyed reading a fiction story that talks about a different race that is still feeling like a underclass minority.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Absolutely loved it!! My favorite books are those written from multiple perspectives. The author crafted deeply complex characters, each forced on a transformational journey to explore old and new identities. I loved the mother character and the way she tied her to modern women; the apparent unyielding character, who had actually made the ultimate sacrifice to bring her child up in a healthier environment, her references to everyday things that continually cause irritation, such as her teeth. The desolate beauty shown in the souls of the characters and in the landscape, deep haunting pathways and crevasses, leave you forever hearing voices of those gone before and marveling at the awe inspiring beauty of the land and of ties that forever connect.