About the Book-
A family long divided, a mysterious trunk, and a desperate journey across the ocean—all in the name of love. The epic saga of the McAlisters continues in this riveting sequel to No Ocean Too Wide.
In 1909, Grace McAlister set sail for Canada as one of the thousands of British Home Children taken from their families and their homeland. Though she is fortunate enough to be adopted by wealthy parents, the secrets of her past are kept hidden for ten years until someone from her long-buried childhood arrives on her doorstep. With this new connection to her birth family, will she be brave enough to leave her sheltered life in Toronto and uncover the truth?
After enduring hardship as an indentured British Home Child, Garth McAlister left Canada to serve in World War I. His sweetheart, Emma Lafferty, promised to wait for his return, but after three long years apart, her letters suddenly stopped. When Garth arrives home from the war to unexpected news, he is determined to return to Canada once more on a daunting mission to find the two women he refuses to abandon—his long-lost sister and his mysteriously missing sweetheart.
This book was the sequel to No Ocean Too Wide, set 10 years after the first one. In that book, four siblings and their mother were separated; three of them were sent to Canada, having been mistaken as orphans. In that book, 2 of the children were reunited with their family, and in this one, the last child is finally reunited. I did not expect the large time gap between the two books, especially with the cliffhanger book 1 ended on, but I do think it was really well done.
The space between the stories allowed for there to have been a lot of changes in the book, and was realistic in that stories do not often intersect as easily in real life as in stories. There is a slight romance in this book: it is the love story between one of the children, Garth, and a girl he met while working in Canada, Emma. In addition, the book covers the story of Grace, the youngest child, being reunited with her family, as aforementioned. These three storylines intertwine over the course of this book, as well as all the adventures and mishaps that happen along the way.
The storytelling in this book wasn’t my favorite: it felt like the author really “told not showed,” which is generally bad writing form. It felt really passive, and I never really felt connected to any of the characters because all of their actions were described, and their thoughts were never really described. In addition, some of the writing was really stilted and it did not feel like there was enough proofreading done to make the story flow better.
I also felt like the backstory could have been established better: there were some aspects of Grace’s personality that did not really make sense, and some of her actions did not really align with what her character portrayed. (Spoiler: highlight to read-
she runs away from home because her parents didn’t believe Garth was her brother, but then the next time she talked to them they understood??? so WHY didn’t she just,,,talk to her parents earlier?)
Without knowing the motivation behind the characters, understanding them and the reasoning behind their actions was a little difficult and threw me off a lot. The characters also . . . never really worried about money? Laura’s husband (whose story was told in the first book) was really rich, and seemed to just pay for everything but . . . it kind of feels like traveling between England and Canada shouldn’t have been easy as it appeared in the book. That also affected how I felt about the realism of the book.
There was a lot of spiritual content in this book, which was really nice! The story is kicked off by Grace finding her Bible and rediscovering her faith. The characters all had strong faith and prayed and talked about their faith a lot. There was a lot of adult content as well though: there was one mention of a man trying to force himself on Emma while he was drunk, as well as other implications of men wanting to take advantage of women.
My last critique of this book is that it tied things together too well. I called each of the plot points before they happened, even the one that was supposed to be the plot twist: and the story wasn’t really engaging to read because the entire plot is predictable. The story seems to wrap up neatly with a bow, and the chances of each of those things individually happening was quite low, much less them all together. Because of that, it was difficult to believe the realism of this book.
Overall, I did enjoy this story. It was very inspirational, and highlighted some of the atrocities of history and discrimination. I recommend this book if you are looking for a lighthearted read with a historical background; in addition, I definitely recommend reading the two books in the duology in order (though maybe with a bit of time in between because of the time gap between the books).
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author. All views expressed are only my honest opinion; I was not required to write a positive review.