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Nothing to Do But Stay Paperback – January 1, 2000


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Product Details

  • Series: Bur Oak Book
  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Iowa Press; 1 edition (January 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0877453292
  • ISBN-13: 978-0877453291
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #488,850 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In eight enjoyable anecdotal essays, Young ( Green Broke ) offers a glimpse of the challenges and rewards of 20th-century pioneering life in North Dakota. In 1904, her Norwegian-born mother, Carrine Gafkjen, age 25, set out alone from Minnesota and staked a 160-acre claim; in those early days she walked five miles to a creek to wash her clothes and fetch drinking water. At 34, when she married homesteader Sever Berg and he moved onto her property (which was larger than his own), she became a prairie housewife, turning out five meals a day and preparing Norwegian specialties such as lefse, a 24-inch potato pancake baked directly on top of a cast-iron range. Young and her siblings endured their own trials, notably their efforts to herd their mother's flock of turkeys--animals, she wryly notes, that are "congenitally indisposed to the principle of herding." Here too is celebration, like Syttende Mai (Norwegian Independence Day), a holiday ignored by the women, but which the men spent drinking and "swearing deathless allegiance" to the Old Country, "on which most of them had never laid eyes." Photos not seen by PW .
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

YA-- Readers are treated to history at its liveliest in these eight essays. Young tells of her pioneer mother's early westering experiences and those of herself and her five siblings. Like Laura Ingalls Wilder, she admits to the hardships of pioneering after the turn of the century but accentuates the positive aspects. She tells of her mother's 1904 trek to North Dakota to homestead alone and explains that the woman was a successful landowner of 320 acres when she married and began her family. This is a natural read-aloud for secondary history classes, and it offers excellent examples of personal essays for journalism and English classes. It's a terrific read for everybody.
- Barbara Hawkins, West Potomac High Sch . , Fairfax, VA
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Gmayou@hotmail.com on March 20, 1998
Format: Paperback
I loved this book. It took me back to my childhood. So many of the events described in this book were familiar to me as a native of North Dakota, the threshing crews, the meals, the clothes frozen on the line in the winter. It is a hard and demanding place to live. Nothing came easy in North Dakota.

I loved the people in this book. They worked
so hard to pull a living out of this land and to see that their children were educated. They were
honest and true friends to their neighbors, paid
debts, perservered against years of hardship.
I always told my mother she should have written a book. Well she never did. I think this is as
close as I will ever get to that wish.

I hope everyone will take a look at this book to
get a glimpse, true and untarnished of what
people in North Dakota and life in North Dakota
was like in the first half of this century.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 26, 2003
Format: Paperback
I stumbled on this book in a used book store. It is the amazing story of the author's parents and their life in rural North Dakota. The book has adventures, anecdotes, and gives the reader a real sense of how families existed in the early 20th century. This was a very entertaining story, although perhaps you can't tell from this review. None of us who have read it could put it down, from my 78 year old mom to my sister who is reading it to her 7 year old daughter.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Frances D. Granatino on February 15, 2002
Format: Paperback
I loved this book. Its a compendium of short pieces about the author's mother, who was a frontier woman with a wonderful outlook on life. I also loved the descriptions of her husband, who had to drive the children through snow, to get to their respective schools, and the descriptions about how the kids were settled in the schoolhouse overnight, while wild mustangs banged against the door. I don't know about you, but I'm not sure I would send my children to a schoolhouse way far away, with food for a week. Can you imagine what they did after school let out... all by themselves? I wanted to hear more about this. The descriptions of quilting are wonderful.It is a great book if you are in the mood to feel cold, hungry, and in North Dakota with the snow beating down upon you. Also if you enjoy descriptions of sumptuous meals at holidays, replete with Norwegian recipes!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Gray on April 20, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Did you grow up in touch with the sky and reality, but you're afraid your city-kids only know about TV, ads and computer games? Read them this book. Christopher Gray, New York City
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Luvs2Read on September 19, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There's no plot here and certainly no white knuckle drama. The book is a series of essays, each chapter relating an event or way of life experienced by the author as a child growing up on the North Dakota plains during tbe early 1900s. From education to farm life to holidays, each was covered with love and humor. I felt like I was getting to know my own grandmother as a child. My only wish was that there were more photographs, but considering the time period it was wonderful to have a few.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Schmerguls VINE VOICE on April 10, 2001
Format: Library Binding
The author is the youngest of six children of hard-working Norwegian-speaking parents, and the account of the struggles her parents went thru is awesome. Sometimes I thought the author indulged in hyperbole, and I would have appreciated a little more exactitude, but it no doubt is true that life during the twenties and thirties in northwestern North Dakota was a hard and demanding one. The first part of this book is the best, as the author relates the fantastic efforts necessary for the kids to be educated. There is a lot of discussion of Norwegian food, and those of you who are of Norwegian descent will gobble that talk up, but for me I could not get too interested in how her mother went to extraordinary lengths to prepare, under primitive conditions, the food she was so good at concocting. There is less talk of the interesting political events during the time than I would have liked. Appam, North Dakota, which was apparently a home town to the family during these years, has, according to my 1958 atlas, a population of 18. I would like to have learned whether it was a bigger place when the author was a child. But the upbeat attitude to her childhood was a real plus for this book--not the dreary catalog of hardship one sometimes gets from depression sagas. I liked this book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Story Circle Book Reviews on December 21, 2007
Format: Paperback
It often happens that our own stories are intimately entwined with someone else's story, and that to understand who we are, we have to tell another person's story first. This is true for Carrie Young, who has written a marvelous memoir of her mother.

This warm, hopeful testament to a woman's courage tells the story of Carrine Gafkjen, who--all alone, and with the single-minded, strong-hearted independence that is often obscured in men's stories about women--homesteaded 160 acres of North Dakota prairie. That was in 1904, and Carrine Gafjken spent the next eight years working for money in the winter and returning to her homestead in the summer. By the time she was thirty, she owned 320 acres of productive land. In 1912 she married Sever Berg. They sold his homestead and took up residence on hers, and over the next decade she bore six healthy children, the last of whom has told us her story in a style that is as strong, clear, and direct as Carrine herself. This is story with no frills or fancy lace, a story of hard work and tough times, but through it all runs hope and love for the land and a firm belief that perseverance will win out in the end.

To my mind, the best books are like this one, valuable in ways too many to count. I not only learned important things about life on the Dakota prairie, but I learned some very good ways to tell a story, to give voice to someone who can no longer speak for herself and who must live--if she continues to live--chiefly in the words of a writer and the heart of a reader. Carrie Young is a fine teacher for any aspiring writer, and her stories about her mother's life are instructive examples of story-telling at its best.

by Susan Wittig Albert
for Story Circle Book Reviews
[...]
reviewing books by, for, and about women
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