Wednesday, February 20, 2013

"A Dream for Tomorrow" Review

A Dream for Tomorrow is the second in the “Homeward on the Oregon Trail” series by Melody Carlson about a family who travels west on the Oregon Trail in the mid-1850s. In the first novel, Westward Hearts, Elizabeth Martin, along with her two children, her parents, and her brother embark on this long and arduous journey, and that book ended with the wagon train out in the middle of the prairie.

As the days go by on the trail to Oregon Country, the journey becomes more and more treacherous. Elizabeth’s family and the other emigrants encounter swollen rivers, dangerous mountains, and limited provisions. Even with all of this, Elizabeth finds herself being almost courted by a widower on the journey, Will Bramford. But Elizabeth is continually drawn to the scout of the wagon train, Eli Kincaid.

Over the long, hard days of travel, the members of the wagon train grow to be a family of sorts. When it comes time to part ways, Elizabeth realizes that many decisions will need to be made. Some travelers will be going on with her and her family to where they have decided to settle. Others she may never see again. When it comes time to make a big decision, will Elizabeth follow her head or her heart?
For the most part, I enjoyed the first book in this series, Westward Hearts. I really like Oregon Trail stories, and that part of the first book was great. There were a few things in the previous novel that I thought were a bit out of place, and I didn’t always connect with the setting or characters.

But all of those issues were completely resolved in this second offering, which made it much more enjoyable for me. I don’t know if it was because I already knew the characters and setting or if the writing was just that much more engrossing, but I felt much more connected to Elizabeth and her surroundings in this book. I had much more of a sense of actually journeying with Elizabeth and her family. It was also really, really helpful that there was a character introduction list at the beginning of the book. I think all series books should do this! It makes it easier to remember what happened in the first book, especially when you are a book reviewer who reads many, many books in between.
I also thought that the spiritual side of this book was clearer than in the previous one. The gospel and other aspects of faith were seamlessly woven throughout the story and within the characters’ lives. I liked how Elizabeth and her family related to the other members of the wagon train, especially the ones who were difficult. They did sometimes come off as a bit too perfect, but it was a great example of how to truly relate to others, solve problems, and have meaningful relationships.

The romance side of this book was a bit lacking in my opinion, but that is probably due to the circumstances in which this book takes place. It’s harder to think on romance when you are just trying to survive. Towards the end, however, it got interesting, and I sympathized with the decisions that Elizabeth needed to make.
Many times the second book in a continuous series seems to just be a bridge from where the series begins and where the author wants the series to end up. Because of this, middle books tend to be a bit boring. There were a few places in this book that I thought were slow and somewhat tedious. But this seems to be the case sometimes with Oregon Trail books, since the journey itself would have been slow and tedious. For a middle-in-the-series book, I thought this one was better than most.

A Dream for Tomorrow was an enjoyable continuation of Elizabeth’s journey Homeward on the Oregon Trail. I look forward to reading the next installment that tells of the emigrants as they settle in their new home in Oregon Country.
I will give A Dream for Tomorrow ... 4 BookWorms.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Harvest House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


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