Friday, July 5, 2013

"A Home at Trail's End" Review

Elizabeth Martin and her family, along with all of the new friends that were made on the Oregon Trail, have finally made it to their destination. But even though they made it through the toughest trip of their lives, their new lives in the “Promised Land” may not be as easy as they thought it would be.

For Elizabeth, the first hurdle to overcome is facing life in Oregon without Eli, the guide who Elizabeth fell in love with on the trail. Assuming that he has chosen trail life over her, Elizabeth resigns herself to providing for her children on her own as she had originally planned. However, with Eli’s unexpected return – and proposal – Elizabeth is overjoyed to start her life in Oregon with Eli by her side.

Even though things are going well for Elizabeth and her family, this rapidly developing town in Oregon Territory does not grow without its difficulties. The fire-and-brimstone preacher in the settlement has practically run everyone out of the church, and Indian troubles are always looming on the horizon. Will the settlers of this land ever be able to come together and work towards a common goal?

The final book in the “Homeward on the Oregon Trail” series by Melody Carlson follows the settlers as they stake their claims in the Oregon Territory and start their new lives there.

I enjoyed the first two books in this series – the second one probably better than the first – so I was interested to see what would happen as the folks from the wagon train settled into their new lives in Oregon. There are so many characters that were introduced throughout the course of the first two novels that it was sometimes difficult to keep everyone perfectly straight. I was very glad that there was a “cast of characters” page in the beginning of the book. As I said in my review of A Dream for Tomorrow, I think all series books should do this!

Once again, this story is told only from Elizabeth’s point of view. While this allows the reader to become invested in Elizabeth’s character, I sometimes found it to be slightly monotonous. I don’t think I really felt this way during the first two books, perhaps because this one-sidedness seemed to fit with the monotony of a life on the Oregon Trail. In this novel, since they were no longer on the trail, the one point of view did not give as broad of a view of things as I was expecting.

The small conflicts that come up in this novel – for example, Elizabeth and her friend Malinda dealing with some jealously and bickering – were really good examples of how to resolve conflict as a Christian. Although Elizabeth usually seemed to be on the side of “right” in these conflicts, it wasn’t always the case, and it helped to keep Elizabeth from seeming to be too perfect.

The bigger circumstances that arose, however, did make Elizabeth and her family seem too good to be true. I loved the fact that they wanted to treat African-Americans and Native Americans with respect and that they wanted to help with the church and with their new neighbors. But after a while it just seemed as if Elizabeth and her husband, Eli, and her dad, Asa, were just always going around fixing everyone else’s problems for them. It made them seem too perfect compared to everyone else around them, which was somewhat annoying.

Overall, however, I enjoyed seeing how everything came together for these people and this town after their long and grueling journey. I appreciated Elizabeth’s excitement as she moved into her new home in Oregon Territory that would very soon become a state. I would have liked for the spiritual aspect to dig a little deeper into the gospel as it did during the second book, but at least the themes of mercy and respect for all people came through clearly. Most everything wraps up nicely at the conclusion of the story, but I would not be surprised if this town and its inhabitants are revisited in a future series.
I will give A Home at Trail’s End … 3 ½ BookWorms.

A Home at Trail's End
by Melody Carlson
Book #3 in the "Homeward on the Oregon Trail" series
Harvest House Publishers
Publication Date: July 1, 2013

Previously in this series: Westward Hearts & A Dream for Tomorrow

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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