cover image Leif’s Journey

Leif’s Journey

Terry Hokenson. Namelos, $18.95 (172p) ISBN 978-1-60898-183-0

Set in 1881 on a snowed-over Minnesota farm, Hokenson’s second novel introduces 17-year-old Leif Eliasson, the youngest son of Swedish immigrants, who embarks on realistic physical and emotional journeys. Leif’s story begins as he volunteers to travel to Freeport to gather supplies and medicine for his mother. Leif’s mother’s pain and Leif’s internal struggles both stem from his father’s dark moods and outbursts, which seem worse since Leif’s siblings left five years before. On the first leg of his trip, Leif meets Anna Sederstrom, who has fled her abusive uncle. Avid readers and open-minded thinkers, Leif and Anna form a fast friendship that blossoms into romance and creates a dilemma: He’s torn between taking over the farm, which would keep him under his father’s thumb, and leaving for a city, where Anna won’t follow. Leif’s contemplative nature and strained relationship with his father combine to create an absorbing read. Hokenson (The Winter Road) creates a strong sense of setting through well-chosen details and his characters’ Swedish-inflected dialogue, yet contemporary readers will easily connect to Leif’s desire to make the most of his life. Ages 12–up. (Jan.)