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 Frasier, 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”.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was a bit slow at the beginning, but I had no idea how it was going to end, so the suspense kept me going. The history it covers is fascinating – I wasn’t really even aware that Britain sent orphans over to Canada, much less that there were issues of social justice involved, and this book did such a wonderful job of going over everything and explaining it without sounding like a history lecture. I loved Laura, Andrew, Katie, Rose, and Henry – they all worked together so well in order to achieve justice. And the ending was a complete surprise, which I loved.
I really only have two complaints for this book. First, the fact that Laura was able to think fast enough to travel with orphans to Canada to find her siblings and was brave enough to do it was impressive to me, but everyone focused on the less-than-ideal parts that got her there. If she hadn’t done those things, she wouldn’t have been able to save her sister, so while they weren’t “good” they were understandable, and I thought everyone in the book should have appreciated her more for her actions. My second complaint is that there was a bit more “knight in shining armor rescues damsel in distress” that I would have preferred. As I mentioned previously, I thought that Laura was incredible in what she did to save her family, and yet there are several scenes where she is seen as an emotional and incapable woman who needs to be saved by a man.
Overall, I am so glad I read this book, and I cannot wait for the second one to come out to find out what happens to the McAlister and Frasier families. No Ocean Too Wide officially comes out in June of 2019, and I highly recommend reading it. It covers such an interesting and relatively untouched part of history, and all of the characters are so lovable that you can’t help but care about all of them and what happens in their lives.
I received a copy of this book from Waterbrook & Multnomah for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.