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Steal the North

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  404 ratings  ·  104 reviews
Vocally graceful and fearlessly intimate, Steal The North, Heather Brittain Bergstrom's remarkable debut novel, is a strikingly beautiful portrait of modern identity, faith, family, and love in all its forms.

Emmy Nolan is a sheltered and introverted sixteen-year-old living in Sacramento with her mom, Kate, when a phone call comes from an aunt she never knew existed. Fiftee
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published April 10th 2014 by Viking
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3.90  · 
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 ·  404 ratings  ·  104 reviews

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“It's crazy what a heart blinded by love can lead you to believe.”

----Jourdane Erasquin

Heather Brittain Bergstrom, an American author, pens her poignant as well as compelling debut novel, Steal the North that accounts the story of a young teenage girl who, after learning about her mother's painful past and about those lies that her mother had been hiding from her, embarks upon a journey through the dusty and bumpy road to the Moses Lake in Washington from Sacramento in California. This emotio
Cassondra Windwalker
Feb 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Each chapter in this book is written from the first-person perspective of one of the main characters. Typically I find this style academic and detaching. Bergstrom, however, speaks so clearly, so purely, in each character's voice, that I found myself wholly immersed in the story, aching to hear more from each of them. The reader is drawn along so lightly, so effortlessly, that the sorrow which consumes the book is no warning of the tragedy which ensues. Bergstrom does not shirk from the permanen ...more

A few months ago I discussed imprints and I mentioned one of my go-to imprints (according to my ratings) is Viking. Steal the North is one of Viking's latest releases and, once again, proves just how well that imprint knows me.

Steal the North is not a happy story by any means. Instead it's a story of a family brought together by lies and tragedy and shows how they cope with the past and, ultimately, struggle to move on. Sixteen-year-old Emmy thought her on
Anne Wolfe
May 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Heather Brittain Bergstrom is a welcome new voice I will be looking for. This unusually moving novel tells not only a beautiful story of young true love, but adds accurate and interesting pictures of Native American Culture and the farmland of Washington. And a chilling picture of fundamentalist church practices.

It took me longer to finish than usual only because of the time it took to prepare and heal from eye surgery. Otherwise, this would have been a hard to put down book.

Heather seems to kn
Heather Bergstrom
Booklist TOP 10 FIRST NOVELS: 2014


"A heartrending exploration of longing, loyalty, and love. With palpable sympathy, Bergstrom captures the rugged and desolate atmosphere of eastern Washington and the distinctive people who call that place home." --Christina Schwarz, bestselling author of Drowning Ruth

"One of those rare novels that have everything: family, the ties that bind us no matter how hard we sometimes try to escape. Love: between mothers
Emma L
Feb 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Words can not describe how much I loved this book. It was a great read, and a story that will be kept close to my heart. Steal the North tells the story of Emmy, a shy and sheltered sixteen year old girl, whose Mom ships her off to
Washington and to a family she never knew she had for a summer. Washington and the people she meets there, especially Ruben, change her life forever. I really loved the setting as Washington, and I learned a lot about it throughout the course of this book. I also reall
Austin Mae
Apr 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Steal the North is more than a love story. It is also the story of two families and two cultures coming together. Bergstrom narrates in the voice of both men and women, whites and Native Americans. It is a western novel in which the stark land of eastern Washington is more than a backdrop--it actually shapes the characters. I personally enjoyed Aunt Beth’s chapters the most. There is tragedy and lots of heartache, but in the end, there is grace, triumph even. Reuben Tonasket, the Native American ...more
Jennifer Olson
Mar 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
This book is a story of a California girl who revisits her birthplace in Washington, to help an aunt she never knew. Emmy goes to help perform a Christian ritual to save her aunt's unborn baby, and meets the love of her life in the process. All odds are against them, it seems. A riveting, easy read. 5 stars.
Denise Berube
Mar 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I received this book through Goodreads.

This book was wonderfully written, beautifully told and a fabulous read.

Michelle Hendershott
Mar 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
LOVED this book....each character drew me into their world. Could not put it down once I started it Highly recommending this book to others.
(Lonestarlibrarian) Keddy Ann Outlaw
I really "fell into" this book. A shy, artistic sixteen year-old girl named Emmy, living in Sacramento with her Mom, Kate, a struggling community college professor, must navigate new ground when her knowledge of family history is suddenly much enlarged. Her mother finally admits Emmy's father is not dead but alive, and that Emmy has an aunt named Beth. Kate has long been on the run from her fundamentalist Christian roots since running away from her small town in eastern Washington, baby Emmy on ...more
Andy Miller
Oct 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
There are many great things about this novel about a 16 year old Emmy living in Sacramento with her liberal, single mother Kate to spend the summer in rural Eastern Washington with her fundamentalist aunt and uncle, Beth and Matt.

But my favorite is that nuance repeatedly trumps stereotype.The story recounts the harshness of Beth's fundamentalist church which helped drive Kate from home when she became pregnant with Emmy as a teenager and prevented needed medical treatment for family members but
May 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"Let them love whom they love. That is the greatest gifts a parent can give to a child."

Love, in all it's forms is at the center of this mesmerizing novel. Love for a child, sibling love, romantic love, love of the land, your culture and the history surrounding you, love of God and the once in a lifetime love that lives in your heart and soul.

Emmy, Reuben, Matt, Beth, Kate, Spencer and Theresa were very much a part of my life while reading this book and I suspect they will visit my thoughts for
May 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book tells the story of 2 sisters who had not seen each other for many years. When one of them was desperate for the possible last chance of having what she had desired for many years, she reaches out to the other sister and asks for a favor. Emmy Nolan is a very shy 16 year old girl who didn't remember her first few years of life. She goes to visit her aunt and falls in love with the part of the country where they live. She meets some neighbors and befriends a young man, who is also very s ...more
Set in eastern Washington small towns, this book is amazing. I don't think I've found another book that balances (or even includes) the Colville reservation and the surrounding lands. The plot was perfectly composed and orchestrated, not too much sappiness or drama. I felt a little miffed that while the main characters were women, their male companions were often portrayed as the heros (too empathetic at times). Regardless, a great read for its setting and plot. A well played-out ending.
Nancy McFarlane
Feb 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
I loved this book, the setting, and all of it’s characters, each one telling his own story with his own voice. This mesmerizing family drama explores every facet of love: love for a child, love of the land, love of a culture and its history, sibling love, love of a spouse, love of religion, second chance love, and a true once-in-a-lifetime love all woven together in a beautifully written, magical story that you won’t be able to put down.
Apr 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Everyone, add to that, everyplace, has a story to tell. Ms. Bergstrom's characters tell more than their personal love stories. They share their sense of place. Through the eyes of the individuals in this writing we learn the stark beauty of the scrublands, the power of the rivers, the contrast of the coulees, the fertility of the wheat fields. There is a connection to the land that in itself is a true love story.
Karen & Gerard
May 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Steal the North by Heather Brittain Bergstrom is about a young girl who was sent away for the summer to her aunt. What a REALLY GREAT BOOK! I enjoyed it a lot! It is told by the different characters throughout the book. Loved the ending too. Would make a good lifetime movie!
(Gerard's review)
Tye Jiles
Feb 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
I loved this book it was heartwarming and heartbreaking. I wish things would have turned out differently for the characters but I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. It will take some time as this book is not rushed through. The pace is slower but builds up to great moments. I would definitely recommend it as a good book to read.
Angela Correa
May 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Awesome book!!! Loved every minute of it!
My favorite books are those written from multiple perspectives. The desolate beauty shown in the souls of the characters and in the landscape leave you forever hearing the voices and ties that forever connect.
May 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Estelle by: Leah
Review originally posted on Rather Be Reading Blog

This is hands down one of the best fiction books I’ve picked up in years.

I was nervous about it, too. Leah over at The Pretty Good Gatsby awarded the book such high praise. Wanting to feel the same felt like an added pressure but a chapter in, I was hooked. With Steal the North, you aren’t sucked in in a way where you want to speed read the whole thing. As the book shifts POVs from the big hitters like Emmy, her mom (Kate), her aunt (Beth), and R
Susan Kaplan
Feb 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Like complex stories, can tolerate shifting narration, big theme lovers
Recommended to Susan by: Goodreads first read
Shelves: fiction, first-reads
I won Steal the North by Heather Brittain Bergstrom as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for a review.

At first, I was skeptical about this book as I thought it fell into the Christian fiction genre (nothing wrong with that, just not my thing), but as the story unfolded I realized I had made an incorrect snap judgement (and I gave myself a good whack on the head for that). While a part of the story revolves around a sect-like group of Fundamentalist Baptists, it is far more than that. Steal the No
Apr 04, 2014 rated it liked it
I vacillated between a 3 and a 4 star rating on this one. If I could, I would give it 3.5, or even better, a 3.8. That seems persnickety, doesn't it? Ha! Well, I've been contemplating the source of my rating ambivalence and I think it comes from my love, unrealistic though it may be, of happy endings for all involved.

I did enjoy this book and it kept me engaged the entire way through. Bergstrom explores familial and romantic love relationships through unique situational perspectives that challe
Apr 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
The first novel from award-winning short-story writer Heather Brittain Bergstrom celebrates the tenacity of teenage love. “Steal The North” ($27.95 in hardcover from Viking; also for Amazon Kindle) tells the story of 16-year-old Emmy Nolan, sent by her mother Kate in Sacramento to eastern Washington state, there to take part in a healing ceremony for Kate’s sister.

Bethany and husband Matt are part of a fundamentalist Baptist sect; the preacher, Brother Mathias, wants the ceremony to include a yo
Jan 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book made me tear up in a few of the more emotional and well-written scenes. I cared about the characters, except Emmy’s birth dad, who I actually think the author gave too much excuse, as sorry as he was, in explaining his actions.
The saddest fact to me, which I had to verify, was the expanse of the Grand Coulee Dam and what it did to sacred native lands. From Wikipedia: “Creation of the reservoir forced the relocation of over 3,000 people, including Native Americans whose ancestral lands
Apr 08, 2014 added it
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Emmy has spent her entire life believing that her father was dead and that her mother, Kate, had no family. When Kate’s past comes back for her, Emmy is sent away to Washington to spend the summer with an aunt and an uncle that she has never met to participate in a ritual that may help Emmy’s aunt carry a child to term. At first Emmy feels reluctant about the entire situation but as she spends some time with her aunt and uncle she realizes that she shares a bond with them that time and dist
Jan 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
I have a feeling that I liked this novel more than I really should have. It's the story of young love, of coming of age, stories that I generally avoid. But I found this one compelling, if occasionally the author's earnestness was a little over the top. The author deftly shifts the narration among several characters: 17-year-old Emmy, a smart, shy California girl visiting her aunt & uncle for the summer in a trailer court in eastern Washington; her boyfriend, Reuben (I especially liked his v ...more
Jul 09, 2014 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kristin (Kritters Ramblings)
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings

A heavy book that hits a lot of big subjects that can impact a teen's life. Emmy is the main character and she is sent to an aunt's house that she never even knew existed to spend a summer where her mother and aunt grew up surrounded by the life that her mother escaped. She must learn about the past and decide what path she wants for herself.

Told through almost every character's perspective, I enjoyed getting each of their point of views. They each
Kelly Hager
Mar 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Note to readers: this book has a slow pace. This isn't a bad thing. It's languid-slow, not boring-slow, and it takes the book time to tell you its secrets. Be patient; you'll be amply rewarded.

I absolutely loved this story. It's told from different perspectives. I loved Emmy's chapters the most, but enjoyed hearing things from the other perspectives, too (especially Bethany's and Reuben's).

The characters in this book became friends and I rejoiced and suffered along with them. And now I miss th
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I grew up in a small farming town in eastern Washington, located between the two largest Indian reservations in the state. My family has deep roots in the Pacific Northwest, and I remember my grandmother telling stories of how the Snake River used to flood their house every spring. For much of my childhood, my parents were members of a fundamentalist Baptist chu
“It was all too much. I went to bed for three days, sick like an Austen or a Bronte character who'd foolishly wandered the moors in a storm, with a strong will but weak ankles. Only the moors were my mom's past, and I couldn't find my way.” 1 likes
“But the truth was--though I wouldn't realize this until later--I had felt summoned: by my aunt and her prayers; by the lake in which my grandmother had bobbed in pain; by my dad's conscience, or lack thereof, and his hills; by the wind; by a neighbor boy who would tell me only the second time I ever talked to him that the color of my eyes (a drab gray, I'd always thought) reminded him of the sky up north on the reservation, right before nightfall, when Sasquatch warned hunters to get out of the woods and coyotes roamed along the roads and fences white men built over ancient paths.” 0 likes
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