Resource Links Review - Racing Home

Reviewed by: 2011

The author was born in Outlook, Saskatchewan, and the history of this small town on the Prairies was the inspiration for this work of fiction. The rapid growth of the town, the coming of the railroad and the struggle for survival during the harsh winters are the backdrop for the story of Erik, a Norwegian boy who arrives with his family in June 1908. Erik and Elsa's own father was a fisherman in Norway, who died in a storm and Rolf seems to Erik to be a poor substitute. They have left their home in Europe, travelled across the U.S. to Minnesota and now north into Canada, following Rolf's brother. Erik is further alienated when he learns that Rolf is really looking for his own son, Olaf, who has been living with his uncle since infancy. It is some consolation to Erik to discover that Olaf and Rolf are not able to relate either. The growth of family comes slowly, mirroring the ability of the family to manage the small farm they are settling. From early in the story we are aware that some of Olaf's friends are less than desirable, but the development of this comes very late in the book and is not a major theme. It does however, bring some exciting action to the community picnic and allow the boys and Rolf to accept each other.

This book gives a good picture of what it was like living on the Prairies in the early 20th century. The interdependence of the community, the lack of schooling, the responsibilities placed on young people, the struggle with language for immigrants, and long hours of physical labour were all vital for survival. It may come as a shock to some young people whose parents do so much for them, that in earlier times children did so much for their parents.

Thematic Links: Canadian History; Prairie Life; Immigrant Struggles; Fathers and Sons; Family Life

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