Hannah is a fifteen-year-old Amish girl who lives on her family’s farm in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. When her family, hit hard by the Great Depression, loses their farm, Hannah’s father decides it’s time for a fresh start. Destitute but inspired by grand plans and dreams of a better future west of Lancaster, he loads his family and what little they have left into their covered wagon.
They settle in North Dakota, hundreds of miles from any Amish community. Hannah’s mother does her best to be a good wife, supporting her husband as they try to build a new life in a wholly unfamiliar place.
Things aren’t going quite as Hannah’s father had imagined—his visions of success are shattered by the reality that his knowledge of farming in Lancaster isn’t of much use in Midwestern soil. With the fields barren and her family on the verge of starvation, Hannah decides to take matters into her own hands. She goes into town looking for a job and finds one at a cattle ranch, where she meets charismatic ranch hand Clay Jenkins.
Clay is drawn to the independent, strong-willed newcomer. As they work together at the ranch, Hannah grapples with her own feelings for Clay, an English boy. Her life is more uncertain than ever. With Hannah’s help, will her family get back on their feet and prosper in North Dakota? And what will happen with Clay Jenkins?
Byler's latest Amish historical (after Hester Takes Charge), the first in her new Dakota series, is heavy on the Amish and very light on the romance. After the Detweiler farm in Lancaster County, Pa., fails during the Great Depression, Hannah Detweiler and her family head for a homestead in North Dakota, where they expect to find rich farmland. The family's faith is sorely tested when they're met with harsh blizzards and a climate ill suited for growing corn. At first, the Detweilers survive due to the kindness of strangers, including the Jenkins family, who have a nearby ranch. But when Hannah's father begins to lose his grip on reality, Hannah realizes that her family will starve unless she gets a job. Her hard work at Harry Rocher's Hardware and Mercantile doesn't leave her much time to think about her burgeoning crush on charming rancher Clay Jenkins, and when tragedy strikes, it may separate the two forever. Byler is Amish, and the authenticity of her narrative shines on every page, as do her impeccable research and skillful plotting. This tale will captivate readers looking for clean Christian women's fiction with a dollop of romance.
The Homestead is Book 1 in Linda Byler's Dakota series. After dad Mose ran into hard times and handled it in a way that was disapproved by his fellow Amish church members, the Detweiler family are moving from their Lancaster PA home, to start a new life out West. It is a rough, hardsrbabble life that they are approaching, and they have no experience, with this kind of life away from their family and friends - but Mose is convinced that with hard work and faith in God, they will make it. Unforunately, they do this during the Great Depression of the 1930s, so they not only have to deal with the normal searing and oppresive Summer heat - 105 degrees at one point as well as blizzrds, not to mention the backbreaking work of homesteading. But they also have to factor in the economy, and trying to adhere to the ordnung, so far from their brethern. At one point, they are basically about to starve and must decide whether to stay in their new home. Though she is only a teenager, mature and determined, Hannah offers to work in town, to help the family make ends meet. Her dad is strongly opposed to her working among "worldy" people. Then after a heartbreaking and sudden tragedy, the free=spirited but family-loving Hannah is torn. She must decide wehther to follow her family's wishes and resume their previous life in PA, or stick with the new life she has grown to love - which includes the freedom and space of the new West, not to mention a young Englisch (not Amish) man whom she cannot get out of her mind. I loved how Byler emphasized that even though the Englisch and Amish have differences in beliefs and lifestyles, they are still have things in common and they can work together in love, when it is needed. I will not give away the rest of the story, but suffice it to say that everyone with open minds will end up learning things from each other. At this divided time in our country, I found this emphasis on unity and looking past labels, to be very heartwarming and encouraging! Anyone can put words together and tell a story. But it takes a gift to be able to make the words and characters come alive like Linda Byler can do. I highly recommend her books.