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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Guest Post and Giveaway: Heather Brittain Bergstrom, author of Steal The North

I'm pleased to have Heather Brittain Bergstrom stopping by today with a wonderful Guest Post and Giveaway....

Steal the North
by Heather Brittain Bergstrom
April 10, 2014

A novel of love in all its forms: for the land, for family, and the once-in-a-lifetime kind that catches two people when they least expect it

Emmy is a shy, sheltered sixteen-year-old when her mom, Kate, sends her to eastern Washington to an aunt and uncle she never knew she had. Fifteen years earlier, Kate had
abandoned her sister, Beth, when she fled her painful past and their fundamentalist church. And now, Beth believes Emmy’s participation in a faith healing is her last hope for having a child.

Emmy goes reluctantly, but before long she knows she has come home. She feels tied to the rugged landscape of coulees and scablands. And she meets Reuben, the Native American boy next door.

In a part of the country where the age-old tensions of cowboys versus Indians still play out, theirs is the kind of magical, fraught love that can only survive with the passion and resilience of youth. Their story is mirrored by the generation before them, who fears that their mistakes are doomed to repeat themselves in Emmy and Reuben. With Louise Erdrich’s sense of place and a love story in the tradition of Water for Elephants, this is an atmospheric family drama in which the question of home is a spiritual one, in which getting over the past is the only hope for the future.

What people are saying about Steal the North:
“A heartrending exploration of longing, loyalty and love. With palpable sympathy, Bergstrom captures the rugged and desolate atmosphere of eastern Washington and the distinctive people who call that place home.”
Christina Schwarz, bestselling author of Drowning Ruth andThe Edge of the Earth

“A shimmering debut about the ties that bind, and the bonds that save us, especially when we least expect it. Shattering, romantic, and deeply profound, (and how many books can claim such adjectives?) Bergstrom’s novel lays a dazzlingly original claim to the unpredictable landscape of the human heart.”
Caroline LeavittNew York Times bestselling author of Is This Tomorrow and Pictures of You

“In Steal The North, Heather Brittain Bergstrom has written the kind of debut novel one longs to read—full of crooked fates, hopeful hearts, and the bitten courage it takes to thrive—a tale, ultimately, of redemption.”
Carol Edgarian, New York Times bestselling author of Three Stages of Amazement

The First Step to Becoming A Young Heroine
by Heather Brittain Bergstrom

I think for many a young girl, like my protagonist, Emmy Nolan, the first step to becoming a heroine (at least of her own life) is standing up to mother. I write this as a mother. Emmy’s mom, Kate, has made all the decisions for her, and many of these important decisions Kate had a right to make as Emmy’s caretaker. Others she did not—for example, not allowing Emmy to embrace or even explore spirituality. Emmy is obedient, for the most part, to her controlling mom. But even daughters of less overbearing moms often go away to college unable to make a move or the smallest decision without mother’s approval. I am guilty myself of being a hovering parent. By sixteen, Emmy knew one day soon she’d stand up to her mom, but she also knew it would have to be over something more significant than clothing choices or even picking which high school to attend. At the end of Steal the North, love triumphs (as it always should after great adversity). But equally important, Emmy makes a bold, decisive move on her own. She leaves her mom’s path and starts etching out her own. She take possession of her own life. That is hard to do, especially for kids nowadays (thanks to hovering parents). But it is an absolute triumph: with possession comes accountability, creativity, and growth. Emmy may not slay a dragon, but, in my opinion, she does something equally brave by taking possession of her life. By the end of the novel, the North of the title has come to stand for, among other things, Emmy’s right to decide her fate. She steals this—in the same way Coyote steals a blanket or Raven steals the sun.

Heather Brittain Bergstrom grew up in a small farming town in eastern Washington, located between the two largest Indian reservations in the state. Her family has deep roots in the Pacific Northwest, and she remembers her grandmother telling stories of how the Snake River used to flood their house every spring. For much of Bergstrom’s childhood, her parents were members of a fundamentalist Baptist church where she attended school in an unaccredited basement academy. Bergstrom has worked as a truck stop waitress and as a teacher. She has won multiple awards from Narrative Magazine, including first place in the Fall 2010 Story Contest. Four of her short stories can be found online at Narrative. Leslie Marmon Silko chose a story by Bergstrom to win the Kore Press Short Fiction Chapbook Award. She has also won writing awards from The Atlantic Monthly and The Chicago Tribune, as well as other places. One of her stories was picked as a notable story in the Best American Short Stories 2010.  Steal the North is her debut novel and first published book. Bergstrom currently lives in the Sacramento Valley with her husband and two children. She returns often to the Pacific Northwest to visit the rivers and to feel the wind in the canyons and coulees.

Win a finished copy of Steal the North!
The awesome people at Viking/Penguin have generously offered up one book for one winner.
-US only (no P.O boxes)
-ends 4/18
-must be 13+
-winner will be emailed and must claim prize within 48 hours
-Word Spelunking is not responsible for lost, damaged, stolen prizes
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Heather Brittain Bergstrom said...

Thank you so much, Aeicha, for having me on your blog today. What a treat! STEAL THE NORTH is a (teenage) love story and family saga set on the edge of an Indian reservation. I am so excited for it to be launched into the world tomorrow, April 10. Thanks again, Aeicha!

Carl Scott said...

This story sounds quite beautiful. I think my wife and I, who have both spent many years in the northwest, would enjoy it a great deal. Thanks.

Unknown said...

I was fortunate to have a mother who allowed me to make my own decisions as I grew up and supported (and still does) me in those decisions. It's so very important to me able to develop your own sense of self. This sounds like a very valid literary statement that I look forward to reading.

Judy said...

I imagine this is going to be a good read!! Thanks for your giveaway!!!

Jax's Book Magic said...

I love finding out about new books through these giveaways.

Unknown said...

Wow, how have I not heard of this? The plot sounds amazing and I definitely would already have it on my list if I had seen it anywhere. Well, definitely going on my list now :) So glad I saw this!

Unknown said...

(This is Darith L)

It sounds pretty great. Can't wait. :D