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Nothing to Do but Stay: My Pioneer Mother
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Nothing to Do but Stay: My Pioneer Mother

3.94  ·  Rating Details ·  394 Ratings  ·  84 Reviews
This daughter's loving tribute to her pioneer mother tells of a real heroine who traveled by herself to North Dakota in 1904, to stake a lonely claim and start a farm on 160 empty acres before she married and began her family. Photos.
Paperback, 128 pages
Published January 1st 2000 by University Of Iowa Press (first published 1991)
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Sep 22, 2013 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: my sister, Amanda
Nothing to Do but Stay: My Pioneer Mother plops the reader down smack dab in the middle of big sky, North Dakota amidst a Norwegian community. The book only contains 164 pages, but they aren't 164 pages of hardship and endurance that I expected given the title. Instead, the contents are a nice swill of reminiscence, recipes from the Ewld Coontry, laughter and caricatures of persons and family members with plenty of personality. People like "rolling the eyes" Uncle Ole who at 55 and tired of eati ...more
Feb 23, 2008 Jenni rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jenni by: Sarah P.
I have currently "endured" four harsh Minnesota winters and I often ponder how the early settlers survived the freezing cold, bitter wind, and unheated (other than fireplaces and stoves) homes. I enjoyed reading about the author's family and their experiences growing up in North Dakota. It was interesting to hear about the daily life, celebrations, food, education, and traditions of her family. Her mother was an amazing woman to settle a homestead on her own and have six children after the age ...more
Oct 24, 2015 Cheri rated it liked it
Being a pioneer on the prairie has always seemed one of the most horrendous lives possible, so I picked up this book to see why someone would actually want to do it. The book is not, in fact, a story about the author's mother, but reminiscences of the author's own childhood. I wish she would have explained why her mother, when she was young and unmarried, got a plot to homestead all alone, but that motivation was never explained. Still, the book painted a wonderful picture of family life on the ...more
Aug 16, 2011 Alaina rated it liked it
Short and sweet, I finished this little book in two sittings. Very nostalgic, full of little anectdotes of her parents' early years as homesteaders in the North Dakota prarie, and also stories from her own youth as the youngest of their six children. It has the voice of an older person fondly remembering the simpler days of youth, when she worked hard and played hard, and waited from Christmas until the Fourth of July for hand-cranked ice cream. It reminded me of listening to my own Grandmother ...more
Jan 04, 2012 Kris rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Kris by: Sarah
Shelves: memoirs
One of the most enjoyable books I read in a long time.

Jan. 12 The thing I noticed most after reading this the second time is Carrie's positive attitude. She lived through the dust bowl - a very trying time for farmers. Yet there is little to no emphasis on this or "woe is me" thinking in her writing.
Laurie Simmons
Aug 10, 2015 Laurie Simmons rated it it was amazing
A perfect book of the genre of someone remembering the life of their Norwegian immigrant parents on the high plains and their growing up years. Lots of interesting details about women's, men's, and children's lives on homesteads and during the Great Depression. A real gem.
Jul 22, 2015 Carin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A friend told me a few months back that if I liked Laura Ingalls Wilder (and do I ever!) then I really ought to read this book, which is the author's memoir mostly about her mother, who was a homesteader in North Dakota in 1905.

The book is divided into sections, and each section is basically a stand-alone essay. So there's one section all about Norwegian-North Dakotan hospitality and foods, one about her Uncle Ole, but my favorite was the first and longest section, about her mother deciding to t
Apr 28, 2010 Janelle rated it really liked it
Someone in my knitting group lent this to me after I waxed eloquent about the Swedish pioneer novels I read and loved (The Emigrants series by Vilhelm Moberg). My knitter friend is of Norwegian descent and collects books about Norwegian-Americans.

This slim tome is a memoir written by the youngest daughter of a Norwegian-born emigrant who came to Minnesota as a child. She (the mother) homesteaded (on her own! before marriage!) in North Dakota, eventually marrying and having 6 children. The author
Linda C
Nov 24, 2015 Linda C rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Carrie Young reminisces about her family life growing up in northwestern North Dakota. One chapter captures the importance of education to the whole family and the lengths they went to to see that all 6 children got an education. Another humorously relates her mother's years as a turkey producer. All intertwine stories of neighbors and relatives and often the foods associated with special events. I was hoping for more on the motivation and early life of Carrie's mother, but this was more of a ...more
Ginny Messina
Oct 18, 2008 Ginny Messina rated it really liked it
Well, I had a little bit of trouble warming up to this book at first since it was not at all what I expected. Carrine Gafkjen left her home in Minnesota at the turn of the century to homestead all alone on the North Dakota prairie. I thought this book was going to be about that experience—and with good reason since the content of the book is completely misrepresented by the back cover blurb as well as the title.

Instead it is Carrine’s daughter’s memoir of growing up on that homestead—-after it
Dec 21, 2013 Richard rated it really liked it
published by University of Iowa Press. A short biography/autobiography of being raised in a Norwegian family in North Dakota in the 1920s and 1930s. I liked this book. The author would be about the same age as my mother, being a teenager in the early 1930's. My mother's stories and early life experiences were similar: raised on a farm, walking to school in the snow, helping with the farm chores, working in the garden, canning, cooking on a wood stove. The author has given us a glimpse of all ...more
May 24, 2008 Kim rated it liked it
I'm going to go with a 3 1/2 stars for this book. It is a really upbeat, interesting look at life on the prairie during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. I'm not a huge fan of memoirs in general, and so although I really liked this book, it suffered from the same lack of plot that is common to the genre. That said, I love thinking about life at that time. I was so impressed that the family loved and accepted each other no matter what. They had their problems but they just accepted it all ...more
Jun 06, 2015 Sophie rated it really liked it
I liked this book a lot. This little memoir tells about Carrie Young's amazing mother. I loved how the book showed you how much emphasis Norwegian culture puts on food. It even inhibited the last line of the book. Young's writing was like she was telling a story; easy to read but yet humorous at the same time. One thing I thought was odd was the way the book was organized. If the book had been in chronological order, it would have been easier to follow. I recommend this book as an interesting ...more
Dec 24, 2012 Clytee rated it really liked it
A great family history read. Rather than try to tell her parent's whole story, she just did some episodes or a subject, and I think she did a great job of painting what her childhood, and her parents were like with just a few stories. I got a kick out of her father distrusting trees, that he loved the prairie. I, too grew up on the prairie, but would not have made it with out trees! This was a quick read that I read pretty much in one night during our Thanksgiving trip to Denver in 2012, and I ...more
Oct 11, 2009 Rachelle rated it really liked it
I can't remember who recommended this book to me, but thank you. This is a very good book. It's one of those books that helps me to put things into perspective when I think that my life is hard. Ha! I have three young children to care for, but this woman has six young children, plus she sews clothing for all of them and cooks only from the things she has grown, she works on the farm with her husband and raises turkeys on her own so that she can put her kids through school. Pioneer women are ...more
Lee Ann
May 04, 2014 Lee Ann rated it it was amazing
Loved this book. It is a series of short narratives of a young women who homesteaded out in NW North Dakota in the early 1900's. She came from MN, married, and raised 6 children. The stories cover the day to day life of homesteading Norwegians - customs, meals, hardships, fun times etc. Doesn't seem to be a lot of books on life in the upper Midwest prairies during the early times, but this is one. I really appreciate the early settler's perervance under these conditions and wonder how I'd fair ...more
Sep 29, 2008 Giovanna rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
Another book read on the train--this time in eastern Montana, and western North Dakota--I was just 30 miles south of the homestead. Again, the backdrop added to the book--looking up and seeing rows of poplars (many most likely planted by homesteaders years ago)readying themselves against the coming winter really brought home the bleakness of the land and homesteading life.

This book is really a collection of connected essays about the author's mother--much about food (always fun) and one I especi
Mar 06, 2013 Izzy rated it really liked it
A quick easy read about a pioneer family who works hard and values education. The book blurb and title is a little misleading. I expected the book to be about the mom's journey as a single woman (before marriage and children) to establish a homestead by herself in the early 1900s. Instead it's about the family, told from the youngest child's point of view. Very reminiscent of (and not as good as) the Little House on the Prarie series.

Suitable for young readers.
May 17, 2014 Martha rated it really liked it
The story of Scandinavian pioneers in North Dakota. Having recently read Ivan Doig's Whistling Season, I was reminded of that. The author's mother staked a claim and proved it up herself. Following her marriage, the husband moved his cabin to the wife's property. Despite many hardships, the family which grew to include five daughters and a son, prospered and educated all of their children. Inspiring, humorous and educational.
Apr 20, 2012 Pam rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, bios-memoirs
What an absolutely delightful book and what a wonderful memorial to her dear mother! This book about life on the plains in North Dakota is full of interesting stories and information especially about Norwegian immigrants. I highly recommend it to all readers, but especially those with Scandinavian ancestry in the upper Midwest.
Dec 23, 2009 Kelly rated it really liked it
I read this in about 24 hours total. Yes, it's short, but it's also a sweet easy read, filled with amazing lives, esp. that of the subject.
This is our next book club pick and Molly is hosting. She's from ND and is going to make us lefse!
I was drooling throughout most of the book. Yes, drooling over farm food! Mostly the sweets! Homemade ice cream, lots of cakes, pickled beets, fresh bread.
May 20, 2012 Diane rated it it was amazing
Norweigan settlers in North Dakota at the turn of the century. This memoir is like a miniature Little House on the Prairie and Little Women in one. Delightful, educational and humbling. Also with a wonderful food descriptions at feast times, as well as surviving harsh winters in life-threatening circumstances and overcoming great odds to succeed.
Apr 04, 2014 Lauren rated it really liked it
I love the author's method of getting the biography out there and then adding more detail, so readers aren't distracted by what will happen. Her mother (and all pioneer women) were so much tougher than I am! I think I would break-down living in a frigid tundra with no amenities during the Dust Bowl!!
Feb 01, 2009 Joan rated it really liked it
This University of Minnesota graduate from North Dakota also wrote The Wedding Dress. Both of these are collections of stories from her family's past settling the plains of western Minnesota and the Dakotas. Filled with harsh winters and life on the land, they capture a culture and set of beliefs that are set down simply and beautifully.
Aug 31, 2012 Michele rated it really liked it
This was a delightful read. I really enjoyed hearing about the life of a single woman who homesteaded in the early 1900's in North Dakota. It is a collection of memories by her daughter. I admire her courage, her hard work, and her dedication to her childrens' education.
Aug 24, 2016 Olivia rated it it was ok
I enjoyed this to an extent, but honestly I was confused the whole time. If this was written about the author's pioneer mother, then why is it all about the author? I suppose I was just mislead by the cover. An interesting read but not a book I'll keep.
Apr 05, 2014 Jan rated it really liked it
I read this quite a while ago. I saw it on a friend's post so am adding it now. I can't believe the hardships that so many Americans endured to scratch out subsistence living in this newly settled country. I am truly a wimp!
Annette Olsen
Oct 21, 2014 Annette Olsen rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
I read this book because I loved Carrie Young's compilation of short stories called The Wedding Dress. This was a little interesting but really just an ordinary diary from the time. I really didn't find it very interesting.
Carrie F.
Oct 24, 2015 Carrie F. rated it it was amazing
I gave this a rare five stars, because I read it with my mother who grew up in a similar place, time and culture. She delightfully related to much of it and I got a glimpse of how things were for my South Dakota ancestors.
This daughter's loving tribute to her pioneer mother tells of a real heroine who traveled by herself to North Dakota in 1904, to stake a lonely claim and start a farm on 160 empty acres before she married and began her family. Photos.
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