4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy middle grade-low YA historical fiction.
Hattie is an orphan and receives a letter from a long-lost uncle that she will inherit his farm. She jumps at the opportunity and boards a train in Iowa, Montana bound. When she arrives, she quickly learns that she has just 10 months to settle up on her uncle's claim to the land by fencing it and farming a certain percentage of the land. With the help of her neighbors Karl, Perilee, and their kids, as well as Leafie and Rooster Jim, Hattie will find her place in Montana. As WWI rages overseas, tensions are high in the US. Many of the Germans living in Montana are being persecuted and discriminated against because of their country of origin. When Hattie makes it clear that this discrimination is wrong, and that she is willing to continue helping Karl and his family, she'll find herself on the bad side of the liberty council.
I always enjoy reading stories where the character has to work really hard to survive and achieve their dreams. Something about that struggle is really captivating to me, and even a slow story of that type is so fun to read. I really enjoyed Hattie's character. I cannot imagine being 16 and inheriting a farm half the country away. Also having to do any of that work on my own... wow. I also loved the relationship that she had with her neighbors, Karl and Perilee and the kids were so lovely, and I adored their friendship. It was also so pleasant to read about a simpler time where neighbors really helped one another, and every little bit of everything was used. It's so satisfying to me. It always saddens me to read a book where one group of people is being persecuted, only to acknowledge that it's not much different from the US we're experiencing right now. In this book the Germans living in the US are discriminated against, today, it is so many groups. It's really sad to see that some things haven't changed much in 100 years. BUT Hattie's character and all of their relationships are a good reminder that there are good people out there. There are so many sticking up for each other even when councils and governments are not. (This book also reminded me a little bit of the movie Sweet Land, which explores a similar theme of Germans within the US during WWI.) This book ended up being a bit sad and bittersweet too, I definitely cried for a while. Overall I enjoyed this book, and would be interested in reading the companion novel.