To Everything a Season: Song of Blessing, Book 1
Miriam Hastings and her family live a hard life in a tenement in Chicago circa 1905. Along with her ill and widowed mother, the Irish-American nursing student and her younger siblings struggle to survive after their father’s death. Each of the children has picked up odd jobs on the street to help, and the youngest daughter has even left school to care for her mother during the day while the others are working to provide a meager subsistence. Miriam is deeply concerned about her mother’s health, and does all she can to make the family’s home stable while learning to be a nurse.
One day, Miriam faces a shocking development. Due to her excellent skills, she’s been selected along with two other students to go to Blessing, North Dakota, to work in the small hospital there to gain the practical experience she’ll need to graduate. She’s torn about leaving, though. While longing to go to learn and serve, she feels a deep responsibility to her struggling family. How will they survive without her personal care and assistance?
"[W]e can read TO EVERYTHING A SEASON as if it’s detailing the lives of people with whom we’re actually acquainted, fully entering into the joys and griefs, relationships and adventures that the characters of Blessing experience."
Suddenly, the necessary assistance is provided from an unexpected source, and her mother is even able to enter the hospital for professional care as Miriam leaves for Blessing. And yes, this is the same Blessing that readers of Lauraine Snelling’s previous titles have come to know and love. Ingeborg, Haakan, Sophie, Grace and Astrid, and all the other beloved characters of Blessing, reappear in TO EVERYTHING A SEASON. Miriam and her fellow students are heading to North Dakota to work for doctors Elizabeth Bjorklund and Astrid Bjorklund Jeffers. Trygve (I finally learned how to pronounce his name in this book) Knutson is working for his prosperous businessman, Onkel Hjelmer, digging wells for farmers in outlying areas, yet he senses that he might be needed closer to home.
Those new to Snelling’s works will enjoy Blessing, an unusual town founded by Norwegian immigrants. It is a place in which residents are deeply connected with one another, by business, relationship and prayer. All the townsfolk attend the only church in town, pastored by Reverend Solberg. But like any family who loves and cares for one another, they don’t always get along and conflicts do arise. The difference in Blessing is that there are faithful believers who undergird all conflicts, tragedies and joyful happenings with prayer, so Blessing grows and prospers.
Trygve, Lars and Kaaren Knutson’s son, is one of these faithful community members. He returns home from his traveling well-digging work in time to meet Miriam at the train station, along with her fellow nurses Vera and Corabell (not that he has eyes for anyone besides Miriam). Miriam didn’t come to Blessing to meet a man, but Trygve’s unexpected presence, faithfulness and strength capture her attention. She’s just not quite sure if she can juggle a relationship with her need to return home to Chicago to care for her family.
TO EVERYTHING A SEASON is not only about Miriam and Trygve, and their budding friendship and romance. We are able to eavesdrop on Dr. Astrid’s growing medical practice and look in while she cares for patients, including, of all people, a 12-year-old bank robber. We also meet a sort of undercover priest who comes to town not only to pursue honest labor, but also to serve spiritually where necessary. Haakan and Ingeborg face their own challenges, and readers are able to observe all of these and more: bank robberies, hostages, life and death, and the sure hand of God’s providence and guidance underlying all.
Lauraine Snelling has a unique ability to create characters and places that her readers actually feel they know and, therefore, love. We sense that they are real people and places, not simply imaginings on a page. And so, because of this outstanding writing gift, we can read TO EVERYTHING A SEASON as if it’s detailing the lives of people with whom we’re actually acquainted, fully entering into the joys and griefs, relationships and adventures that the characters of Blessing experience. Fortunately for us, this latest novel is the beginning of a new series, Song of Blessing. Go out and get yourself a copy, and enter the wonderful world of Blessing. You’ll discover and savor a world you’ll never want to leave.
Reviewed by Melanie Reynolds on November 24, 2014