Author: Carrie Turansky
Genre: Historical Fiction
Between the years of 1869 to 1939 more than 100,000 poor British children were sent across the ocean to Canada with the promise of a better life. Those who took them in to work as farm laborers or household servants were told they were orphans--but was that the truth?
After the tragic loss of their father, the McAlister family is living at the edge of the poorhouse in London in 1908, leaving their mother to scrape by for her three younger children, while oldest daughter, Laura, works on a large estate more than an hour away. When Edna McAlister falls gravely ill and is hospitalized, twins Katie and Garth and eight-year-old Grace are forced into an orphans' home before Laura is notified about her family's unfortunate turn of events in London. With hundreds of British children sent on ships to Canada, whether truly orphans or not, Laura knows she must act quickly. But finding her siblings and taking care of her family may cost her everything.
Andrew Fraser, a wealthy young British lawyer and heir to the estate where Laura is in service, discovers that this common practice of finding new homes for penniless children might not be all that it seems. Together Laura and Andrew form an unlikely partnership. Will they arrive in time? Will their friendship blossom into something more?
Inspired by true events, this moving novel follows Laura as she seeks to reunite her family and her siblings who, in their darkest hours, must cling to the words from Isaiah: "Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God".
Reviewer: Laura J. Davis
No Ocean Too Wide by Carrie Turansky is a heartbreaking account of what happened to British children sent to Canada from 1869 to 1939. I had heard of Home Children before when Canada proclaimed 2010 the Year of the British Home Child. But I never really investigated things until this book.
In the novel, we learn about three siblings Katie, Garth and Grace who are torn from their mother and placed on a ship bound for Canada to serve as domestics or be adopted. The problem was - their mother was sick in the hospital. She was not dead and gave no one permission to take her children. But the laws of the time (much like Children's Aid Societies today) gave the government the right to do what they wanted with the children if they thought they were in danger, or not looked after by an adult. In this story, their older sister Laura tries valiantly to get her siblings back, but no one will listen to her claims that she can care for them. And even though this was a fictional story, two-thirds of these children had a parent in Britain who simply couldn't afford to provide for them any longer.
The author did her research and managed to get me angry and frustrated with those "in charge" at every turn. The deplorable conditions Katie suffered was but a glimpse of what these children actually went through. While some Canadians did provide good homes, some did not and this story shines a light on those families. The side story of a developing affection between Laura and Andrew and Rose and Henry was a nice break in the story.
I look forward to finding out what happens to Garth and Grace in the next book in this series. Well worth reading! I highly recommend it.
I received this book from the publisher through NetGalley.