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You Belong Here Now


You Belong Here Now

Dianna Rostad sets up an intriguing dynamic for her debut historical novel, YOU BELONG HERE NOW. On the one side, there’s Nara, a committed rancher and dedicated spinster trying hard to outrun tragic events of her past. She’s aware that in 1925 Montana, she needs to come off as tough and unemotional to gain and sustain the respect of the men around her.

On the other side, there are three children whose paths are about to cross hers. Charles, the oldest, is almost a man --- he’s good at thinking strategically and seizing opportunity when it presents itself, but his size and tough-talking New York attitude can intimidate others. Patrick is quick-thinking and smart, but his red hair marks him as Irish at a time when anti-Irish sentiment runs strong. And Opal is quiet but emotionally strong --- her bruises hint at hardships that may come back to haunt her later.

"YOU BELONG HERE NOW offers a vivid portrait of a fascinating episode in American history and will certainly appeal to lovers of character-driven historical fiction."

These three children --- none of whom knew each other before their journey --- are among the last to be chosen as the orphan train they’re on travels across the country. By the time they reach Montana, Charles --- convinced none of them will be adopted --- decides that they will strike out on their own rather than risk the alternative: returning to New York and an uncertain future there.

When Nara encounters Charles, she’s immediately suspicious of the story that the children were raised on a farm in Canada, especially when she sees how little they know about farm life. But their willingness to learn --- and especially their vulnerabilities and their own histories of loss --- starts to erode her brittle exterior and help them form a new kind of family, one that soon will be sorely tested in a number of ways.

YOU BELONG HERE NOW offers a vivid portrait of a fascinating episode in American history and will certainly appeal to lovers of character-driven historical fiction. Those unfamiliar with the orphan train phenomenon will be intrigued to learn more about the children’s journey. Likewise, the novel effectively brings to life the anti-Irish prejudices of the time and will prompt reflections on present-day attitudes toward various racial and ethnic groups.

Rostad writes lyrically about the children’s journey to belonging and Nara’s journey toward emotional openness, but her writing is most captivating when she describes the Montana landscapes where the story is set and the creatures who live there: “Nobody watching over their shoulders, just the sun warming them. The wind rippling through Charles’s shirt like freedom. The horse beneath had begun to feel as natural as sitting in a rocking chair. It had taken him a while to catch the rhythm of riding, but now it felt as easy as walking, but faster.”

Seeing these three city kids find their home in this beautiful but unforgiving landscape --- and seeing Nara open her heart to take them in --- makes for a compelling and timeless narrative.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on April 9, 2021

You Belong Here Now
by Dianna Rostad

  • Publication Date: April 6, 2021
  • Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
  • ISBN-10: 0063027895
  • ISBN-13: 9780063027893