Christian and Emma Griesy and their two young children come from a Missouri communal colony to emigrate to the Washington territory. Emma is a very independent woman who chafes at the ideas of sharing and living together with those in the commune. She wishes to own her own property and build up her own wealth. But when Christian dies saving another man's life, Emma must learn to survive without him.
When Emma learns that she is pregnant with Christian's child, she is concerned about how she is going to manage her growing family without the help of her husband. Although there is help offered from Christian's parents and even a marriage proposal, Emma wants to show everyone she can make it on her own. Emma has great difficulty accepting help as she feels that puts her under obligation. She wears herself thin trying to do the best for her children. After an illness Emma finally accepts Big Jack's marriage proposal, but will this give her the help she needs?
Although the story is about Emma, a second narrator is introduced. Louisa, the commune leader's wife, tells her story. Louisa is a woman who tries to affect change from within. Is it better to work from within like Louisa or work from outside the confining community like Emma?
This book is a wonderful story about independence and dependence, loss and grief, community and individualism, giving and receiving. Everyone knows that giving is a good charitable act. Emma has to learn how to receive. This is a hard lesson, one that is also hard for me to accept. How does one accept help without feeling under the obligation of that person? Although Emma struggles with living in the commune, she has to learn that even in a commune there exist individuals. Emma puts her children first at all times and this is admirable, however it may not always be what is best. There are times when you feel if she thought about her own needs, the needs of her children would then follow. I loved the gentle spiritual pace of the book. Emma's faith, although tested, remains steadfast and it is uplifting to read about her courage and faith.
It is very interesting to read about the early settlement of a Washington coastal town and an Oregon farming community. I was amazed at the amount of travel back and forth between the two communities.
This book is the second in the Change and Cherish series. I have not read the first book and found nothing missing. This book could be read stand-alone.