The Search for the Homestead Treasure: A Mystery

Ann Treacy. Univ. of Minnesota, $16.95 (160p) ISBN 978-0-8166-9956-8
Less mystery than family saga, this novel is set on a Minnesota farm owned by Swedish immigrants. The homestead has a dark history: in 1865, Anna and Carl Gunnarsson and their daughter, Cora, died of diphtheria; neighbors raised their infant son, Jacob, who eventually moved away. Four decades later, an impoverished Jacob returns to the rundown farm with his family, determined to start anew after the death of their oldest son. Soon after, Jacob is severely injured in a work accident, his wife drowns her grief in “patent medicines,” and 14-year-old Martin, who sorely misses his brother and his former life, assumes responsibility for resuscitating the farm. A clue in Cora’s diary, discovered in the barn, gives Martin hope of saving the property from foreclosure. Martin’s forbidden friendship with a charismatic Roma boy named Sam, who helps with farm chores and rescues Martin’s family from a fire, highlights cultural prejudices against the Roma (who are referred to as “gypsies” throughout). A concluding note from Treacy (coauthor of A Book of Grace) reveals how her own family history inspired this tightly written novel. Ages 8–12. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/07/2016
Release date: 05/01/2016
Genre: Children's
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