No Ocean Too Wide caught my eye for two reasons: first, it’s about English orphans immigrating to Canada. I’ll cover later why that statement carries a bit of sweet and a lot of bitter.
The second reason I was excited to read No Ocean Too Wide: I met Carrie Turansky my very first day of my very first ever writers conference (ACFW 2018 in Nashville) and she was so sweet and kind to this very green first- timer.
And now, I just can’t wait to find out what will happen in book two of The McAlister Family Novels.
As always, let’s start with the back cover.
From the Back Cover
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 Fraser, 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”.
Not only am I from Canada, but I live in the area Carrie mentions in her book and I had recently heard about the children that were brought here to work from across the ocean. I wouldn’t say that No Ocean Too Wide was a heavy read, considering the subject matter. There were intense parts, but Carrie did a great job of easing her readers into the story. She certainly tapped my heart for the McAlister children and the children who really did go through similar events.
I’m happy Carrie included a love story. Laura McAlister is a young adult and the rescue of her siblings is left in her hands. Meanwhile, Andrew Fraser—future estate heir, lawyer, and philanthropist—is the perfect hero for this story. His gentle nature, his convictions, and his patience is exactly what is needed to win Laura’s heart after meeting too many shady men.
Laura’s journey of faith was very real as well. Her hands weren’t entirely clean in the pursuit of her siblings and she did what she had to do. Her story of courage and perseverance all while her faith was not quite steady… well, it was inspiring.
I won’t give too much of a spoiler here, but I need to know what will happen in the case of a couple of kids wrongly brought to Canada! As soon as book two is out in this series, I will be on it. The area of Kingston and Belleville is beautiful and sets right on the thousand islands and Lake Ontario—I’d like to see a bit more of the scenery brought in, and maybe a few more kind Canadians. There were some in No Ocean Too Wide, but I’d like to see a bit more work to get these children in better conditions. While staying historically correct, of course. Okay, I’m biased. I’m Canadian, and I wanted to leap into the pages of this book and come to the rescue. But it was all so underhanded it’s likely a lot of good people didn’t even know what was happening. I’m just appalled that children could be bought for so little.
So this read was bittersweet for me. It saddens me greatly that so many children were brought to Canada in the late 1800s and early 1900s with the promise of a better life, only to be subjected to hardship. I’m thankful there are systems today protecting children better here (though not perfect). No Ocean Too Wide was very sweet as well with many high moments, a sweet love story, and just a great tale in general. And there were tears (my husband is my witness).
Great job on this story, Carrie. I give it a 4.5 star and am eager to read the next book in the series!
About the Author
CARRIE TURANSKY is an award-winning author of twenty novels and novellas. She has won the ACFW Carol Award, the Crystal Globe Award, and the International Digital Award, and was a finalist for the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award and the Maggie Award of Excellence. A prolific writer of contemporary and historical romance, women’s fiction, short stories, articles, and devotionals, Carrie lives in central New Jersey with her husband, Scott. They have five adult children and six grandchildren.