With their eldest son nearly to the age when he will be drafted into military service, Reinhardt and Lillian Vogt decide to immigrate to America, the land of liberty, with their three sons and Reinhardt's adopted brother, Eli. But when tragedy strikes during the voyage, Lillian and Eli are forced into an agreement neither desires. Determined to fulfill his obligation to Reinhardt, Eli plans to see Lillian and her sons safely settled on their Kansas homestead--and he's equally determined that the boys will be reared in the Mennonie faith. What he doesn't expect is his growing affection for Lillian--and the deep desire to be part of a family.
Positioned as a gentle historical romance for lovers of Amish and Mennonite stories, this tale by inspirational Christian novelist Vogel Sawyer (My Heart Remembers) fits this description in too tidy a fashion. Set in 1872, married couple Reinhardt and Lillian Vogt decide to leave their Mennonite village of Gnadenfeld, Russia, for America rather than see their eldest son, Henrik, drafted into the military. The Vogts begin their ocean voyage along with their three sons and Reinhardt's foster brother Eli Bornholdt when the unthinkable occurs. Faced with sudden tragedy and a future in Kansas now made even more uncertain, Lillian must act quickly and decisively, and does so, but not without drawing the ire of her oldest son. With little to go on but grit, faith and loyalty to each other, these immigrants forge a new life despite obstacles both internal and external. Fans of this type of formulaic fiction won't be put off by its conclusion or its lightweight treatment of true loss and the grief that follows. Others who prefer more realism in their reads won't be as easily satisfied.