Leif’s Journey

Terry Hokenson

A young man struggles against an overbearing father.

Leif’s older brothers and sister have already struck out on their own, leaving Leif alone to carry on the family farm. Leif loves their remote farm on Crane Creek and the life it offers, but Pa is relentlessly harsh and demanding, always finding fault and humiliating him. When Leif makes a trek into town in the dead of winter to procure supplies, he meets Anna, a distant neighbor, and together they dream of making a life as farmers. If only his father weren’t so hard to deal with.

Leif discovers an old broken-down shay that he plans to fix up and surprise Anna with, but Pa ridicules him and calls it a waste of time. Pa’s attitude finally provokes Leif to escape to the big city, where his sister lives, to find his way. What he discovers there and what he learns about himself enables him to do what has to be done.

Leif’s Journey is the story of a young man struggling to find his way . . . with his father, his new love, his need to venture forth and explore a wider world, and, ultimately, to manhood.

  • Ages: 11-16
  • Grades: 5-11
  • Pages: 182
  • Hardcover: $18.95
  • Softcover: $9.95
  • E-book: $7.95

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Recent Reviews

Leif ’s story is dynamic and engaging and the details of late nineteenth-century life among rural Swedish-American settlers are intriguing....Leif ’s struggles with Pa have a timelessness that makes the story accessible (but not anachronistic) to a modern audience, while Leif’s relationship with Anna is romantic but credibly modest. Occasional Swedish words or phrases add interest and authenticity to the narrative, and an author’s note explains the geographical and historic basis for Leif’s chronicle.

—BCCB Reviews

Leif’s contemplative nature and strained relationship with his father combine to create an absorbing read. Hokenson (The Winter Road) creates a strong sense of setting through well-chosen details and his characters’ Swedish-inflected dialogue, yet contemporary readers will easily connect to Leif’s desire to make the most of his life.

—Publishers Weekly

The guileless language of Hokenson's third-person narrative perfectly captures both Leif's earnest simplicity and his wonderment at the wider world after the isolation of his rural upbringing. Historical details are spot-on. Leif's tender attachments to his mother and Anna are sensitively depicted. ...Readers of the genre will savor this immersive and ultimately satisfying tale of coming of age on the American prairie.

—Kirkus Reviews