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Until We Reach Home

4.12  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,105 Ratings  ·  335 Reviews
Life in Sweden feels like an endless winter to Elin Carlson after the deaths of her parents. When circumstances become unbearable, she determines to find a safe haven for her sisters.

So begins their journey to America, the land of dreams and second chances.

But as hardship becomes their constant companion, Elin, Kirsten, and Sofia question their decision to immigrate to Chi
Paperback, 428 pages
Published October 1st 2008 by Bethany House (first published January 1st 2008)
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Redeeming Love by Francine RiversA Voice in the Wind by Francine RiversAn Echo in the Darkness by Francine RiversAs Sure as the Dawn by Francine RiversThe Silent Governess by Julie Klassen
Best Christian Historical Fiction
45th out of 963 books — 1,087 voters
Candle in the Darkness by Lynn AustinThe Silent Governess by Julie KlassenA Bride Most Begrudging by Deeanne GistFire by Night by Lynn AustinA Proper Pursuit by Lynn Austin
Christy Award Winners
11th out of 121 books — 103 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Dec 26, 2011 Jane rated it really liked it
Where I got the book: my local library

Elin knows that she has to get her sisters away from their farm in Sweden before they also fall prey to her uncle Sven. Finding a new home for three orphaned women in 1897 isn't an easy task, but Elin believes an uncle in America may help them to start a new life. She has to overcome her sisters' own resistance and the hardships of emigration to reach a promised land that turns out not to be what they expected.

I was surprised how much I enjoyed reading this
Oct 20, 2009 Auntie rated it it was amazing
As soon as I began this story, I thought of both of my Swedish grandmothers. Both emigrated around the turn of the century as young adults. Liverpool was where they boarded the steamship that brought them over. I felt as if I was learning so much more about what they'd experienced as I'd never asked either directly what life was like for them. My grandma Martha was actually a Karlsson before she wed, so I enjoyed the choice of the main characters' surname of Carlson.

Lynn Austin has brought her g
Shari Larsen
Feb 19, 2013 Shari Larsen rated it it was amazing

Life in Sweden is hard for three sisters in Sweden after their mother's death and father's suicide. Oldest sister Elin feels the weight of responsibility for her sisters' welfare, and when circumstances become unbearable, she writes to her uncle in Chicago, pleading for help. He sends them tickets to come to America, and in 1897, Elin, Kirsten and Sofia begin a long, difficult journey. They have to endure an ocean voyage in steerage, then detention on Ellis Island, before finally arriving in Chi
Mikaylah Brooke Hansen
Jan 11, 2012 Mikaylah Brooke Hansen rated it it was amazing

This was a non-stop suprising and suspenseful novel. It deserves the highest rating!

It starts out in about late 17th century Sweden, where Elin, the oldest of three sisters (Elin,Kirsten,Sophia) feels the need to help her sisters move to start a new life in America, after having their beloved parents die, and their peverted uncle move in and take over. The Carlson sisters have had enough heartache, and their brother had before been forced to move out by Uncle Sven, who is now making perverted at
Feb 05, 2011 Libtechgurugoddess rated it liked it
I love Lynn Austin's books. This one takes a little longer to get into; the characters are so whiny. I know you need conflict to have resolution, but these sisters complain, complain, and complain! They even realize what they're doing and say they're going to reform (as we all do), but then go right back to whining. I read somewhere that this was written as an homage to her grandmother who immigrated from Sweden with her 2 sisters—I don't know if I dreamed that because I can't find it again. The ...more
Feb 28, 2015 Joyce rated it it was amazing
Library copy. Hard to put this book down. The first hundred pages are so powerful. Hope the rest of the book can keep up with the beginning.

I love this book! Absolutely loved it. I don't know what to say except to recommend it to everyone. It is a story of immigration, of loss, of family, of faith that grows, and relationships of all kinds. It is a compelling story masterfully told in such a way that the reader lives the story along with the characters. The story does not disappear when the book
Jun 19, 2013 Loraine rated it really liked it
Three young sisters make their way to America from Sweden during the height of the immigration movement in the late 1800's. Each has a different reason for wanting to emigrate or to stay in Sweden.

I really enjoyed the different personalities of the 3 sisters and how each changed, grew, and became more mature especially in their spiritual lives as the encountered all of the difficulties of emigrating and starting life anew in America. As a genealogist, I found Ms. Austin's description of emigrat
Valerie (Val's Vicinity)
Mar 10, 2013 Valerie (Val's Vicinity) rated it it was amazing
I'm so glad I picked this one up; going in I had no idea how much I would enjoy it. The three sisters (Elin, Kirsten, and Sofia) are very close and have a deep love for one another, yet each one holds secrets they're afraid or too ashamed to share. These secrets ultimately lead them to leave their homeland behind in search of a new life in America.

The point of view continually changes, going back and forth between the sisters. While all three sisters have a unique role and different ways of loo
TheReadingKnitter/ Kasey
Sep 20, 2010 TheReadingKnitter/ Kasey rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010, favorites
Life in Sweden seems like an endless winter for three sisters after their mother's death and father's suicide. Elin feels the weight of responsibility for her sisters' welfare, and when circumstances become unbearable, she writes to her relatives in Chicago, pleading for help.

Joining sixteen million other immigrants who left their homelands for America between 1890 and 1920, Elin, Kirsten, and Sofia begin the long, difficult journey. Enduring the ocean voyage in steerage and detention on Ellis I
After my initial read a few years ago, I probably would have given this book 3 or maybe even 4 stars, but I've been rereading it lately and I just can't give it more than 2.

The story is pretty good, and it has the potential to be a real tearjerker. There are certainly plenty of tearjerker elements: past sexual abuse by a family member, suicide, parental death, and the ever-present stress of living in 1890's Chicago as a dirt-poor Swedish immigrant. And while they all came together into a cohere
Lee Margaret
Mar 18, 2009 Lee Margaret rated it it was amazing
This is my first time to read any books by Lynn Austin.

I have to admit I enjoy this so much that I read this in two nights. I stayed up real late one night and then finished it off the next night. That's how good this book!

Basically it's about three sisters from Sweden who end up in America and that is all I will say since I dont' want to give the whole story away. Good news is that it has a great ending and has no bad parts or cussing. This should be for young teenagers to adults. I do not th
What a good read!

Another great novel by Lynn Austin. When you pick up one of her books, you know it will be a meaningful and faith filled story. Her ability to make characters special, real and very different continues to amaze me! The way they change through her stories is so well done.

I grew very attached to the 3 main characters, sisters moving to America from Sweden. Each story line was interesting and it was wonderful to watch the sisters grow into themselves and to grow in faith.

I reall
Dec 09, 2012 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thîs was a sweet story. It's the story of three Swedish sisters journey to America and the trials that they face. Their parents are dead and their older brother abandoned them. They have a nasty uncle who has taken over the farm so now their only option is to go to America. It switches between the three points of view, which I really liked. I am the oldest of 5 girls so I could really relate with the oldest sister Elin. She acted like an older sister would.
The romance with Sofia and Ludwig was
Mar 31, 2009 Ange rated it liked it
Lynn Austin never disappoints me. I love how when you read her books you really feel like you can really relate to what the people would have been experiencing during the time period. This book is about emigrants coming to America, it documents their time on Ellis Island, and their journey. It describes many of the hardships they faced, yet it is all centered around the story of 3 sisters growing up and choosing their own paths. If you have liked other Lynn Austin novels (or you enjoy good hist ...more
Shirley Hanson
Sep 25, 2013 Shirley Hanson rated it it was amazing

This author, Lynn Austin, makes a story come alive! You feel as if you are living the story right along with the characters. Wonderful Christian literature.
Jun 21, 2010 Hannah rated it it was amazing
This is a bittersweet, love-filled story of the journey of three sisters from their depressed and hard life in Sweden to a new beginning in America. The contrast between the old world and the new is wonderfully portrayed in this novel, set in the late 1800s. Upon reaching America, the girls experience a circumstances barely better than the ones they left behind, but they rise above their trials and their pride is left intact.

It reminded me in several ways of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility.
Dec 02, 2010 Katie rated it it was amazing
5 stars goes to this book!! :-D It didn't take many pages for me to be drawn into the plight of Elin and her sisters - Kirsten and Sofia. After losing their parents, their Uncle took over their farm and made life unbearable for Elin as she tried to protect her sisters from him. Finally, when she decides to escape to America to live with her mother's favorite brother who had left for America years ago, their hard journey to America and freedom began.

I loved reading about the three sisters during
Until We Reach Home is the story of Elin, Kirsten and Sophia, three sisters traveling to America from Sweden. It was very much about the harrowing journey they made to America, but even more so a coming-of-age story for each of them.

What I loved-the character development. Lynn Austin excels at creating realistic faults in her characters, and throughout the course of the book, we see each sister overcoming those faults. Each has their own issues to come to terms with - Elin, the need to control,
Nov 10, 2008 Becky rated it it was amazing
Austin, Lynn. 2008. Until We Reach Home. Bethany House.

Elin Carlson walked into the barn and everything changed.

Elin is the oldest of three sisters. Her younger sisters, Kirsten and Sofia, don't always appreciate their older sister looking out for them; her bossing them around. But since the death of their mother and father, Elin has taken this burden or responsibility upon her young shoulders. True, Uncle Sven and Aunt Karin came to "help" the Carlson family run the farm. But as Elin sees it, t
Rachel Brand
This wasn't quite as good as Wonderland Creek or A Proper Pursuit, but Lynn is still a fantastic storyteller. She has such vivid descriptions of places and time periods that I felt like I was alongside the sisters on the boat to America or staying in their aunt's boarding house and exploring Chicago. Because this book had three protagonists, the character development wasn't quite as good as in her other novels. Each of the sisters felt like they were defined by one characteristic or event from t ...more
Dundee Library
Another great historical fiction book by my favorite author, Lynn Austin. This story follows three Swedish sisters as they journey to America in hopes of a better life, while leaving painful family secrets behind. While each sisters' account is equally interesting, the youngest sister, Sofia, has a love story that is perhaps my all time favorite- it is so sweet! She is stranded on Ellis Island, alone and confused, and does not know how to speak English. A German man tries to befriend her, but al ...more
Mar 03, 2013 Erin rated it liked it
This was a pretty good book! I'm not going to give too many details to keep from spoiling anything, but it follows the trials of three sisters who are immigrating from Sweden to America. I downloaded the book because of the tie to NYC and Ellis Island, which I had recently visited, and as such, was able to appreciate those scenes so much more for my familiarity with the location. The characters were well-written and interesting, and I liked that the narrative switched between the sisters' points ...more
This is the first book I've read by Lynn Austin, but it won't be the last. Until We Reach Home held my interest from the first page to the last. My emotions ran the gamut as the story unfolded. I loved the main characters and how they grew through the trials they endured. It didn't end exactly as I expected, which made it all the more realistic. Highly recommend it!
Sep 07, 2011 Andrea rated it really liked it
Until We Reach Home follows the journey of three orphaned Swedish sisters as they immigrate to America, and try to find a new home.

There were many struggles along the way, and even more once they reached America. Each sister had to overcome her own internal battles as well as the physical difficulties of the journey.

I enjoy historical fiction, and found the details of the journey and the procedures at Ellis Island very interesting.

One of the sisters found comfort in reading her mother's Bible,
Jackie Atkins
Sep 06, 2014 Jackie Atkins rated it it was amazing
Excellent book telling about the journey of three sisters from Sweden to America in 1897. Their beliefs and love for each other encourages a person not to give up.
Jun 02, 2013 AJ rated it really liked it
Shelves: comps
I wish there had been about 75 pages less at the beginning, and 75 more at the end. This story took a while to get going, but once it did I couldn't put it down. But then, just as I was reveling in a dramatic reunion scene, I turned the page to learn what happened... only the next page was blank. The book was over, and left me feeling rather gipped whereas only a few paragraphs before I had been breathless with anticipation. So, for my taste, a little more streamlining at the beginning and a sli ...more
Jan 04, 2009 Joycelyn rated it really liked it
This a highly enjoyable tale of 3 Swedish sisters immigration to America and their search for a home after the death of their parents. The ties that bind these sisters grow even stronger on their perilous journey from their small village to the busy streets of Chicago. In typical Lynn Austin style, the sisters find an deeper faith during their journey to find a home. Especially moving and sweet is the youngest sister Sofia's time on Ellis Island when she meets Ludgwig Schneider and despite the f ...more
Mar 09, 2012 Carolyn rated it it was amazing
I read this in two evenings and then recommended it for our seniors book club. They loved it too. I had never read anything about coming to America on a ship except what was dipicted in the Titanic movie. I found it fascinating. I love anything about sisters. The three of them carrying that case of family momentos all over the world was so touching. They should have dumped it at the beggining of their journey, but family memories hold so much value.I thought Austin could have left out the nasty ...more
Ml Herman
Feb 12, 2013 Ml Herman rated it it was amazing
I dicovered Lynn Austin a few months ago. I'm not usually one to read historical fiction, but her books are fascinating. I was instantly transported into the lives of the Carlson sisters. Having a sister and being the mother of three daughters, this book deeply touched my heart. I laughed and cried with these young women. Such a moving story of very different women bound by home and family. I was especially fascinated by the time they spent on Ellis Island. The only negative thing I have to add ...more
I’m big fan of Lynn Austin’s writing and this book is among her one of the best. This is the story of three sisters; Elin, Sofia and Kirsten who set out to a long voyage, leaving their birth country Sweden behind for America. On reaching America there dreams of having a wonderful life in America shattered and they struggled together to make their day to day living affordable.

I love the way Austin portrayed the bonding between sisters, developed their complex and real enough characters. This is
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For many years, Lynn Austin nurtured a desire to write but frequent travels and the demands of her growing family postponed her career. When her husband's work took Lynn to Bogota, Colombia, for two years, she used the B.A. she'd earned at Southern Connecticut State University to become a teacher. After returning to the U.S., the Austins moved to Anderson, Indiana, Thunder Bay, Ontario, and later ...more
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