Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

A Bride for Anna's Papa: A story of Finnish Immigration

A Bride for Anna's Papa: A story of Finnish Immigration

Isabel R. Marvin
Historical Fiction
For ages 8 to 12
Milkweed Editions, 2004   ISBN: 978-1571316509

Anna's life has taken a definite turn for the worse. Her mother has died suddenly and unexpectedly, and Anna now has to take care of her father and brother. Anna cooks, cleans, milks the cow, and does all the things that her mother used to do. What she is not able to do is to go to school. She dearly wishes she could once again be a school girl, have friends, and continue her education, but this just isn't possible. Anna and her brother Matti decide that what they need is a wife for their father, and when a group of Finnish brides comes to their town in Minnesota they are hopeful that perhaps there will be a young lady among them who will catch their father's eye.

As it happens the lady who attracts Anna's father's attention is none other than the local school teacher. Anna cannot help feeling jealous and unsure of this relationship. Is it possible that the teacher be the one who will make her father happy and who will give Anna her childhood back?

Set against the backdrop of mining life in the Iron Range of northern Minnesota, Anna's difficulties, fears and worries are touching and surprising. Like so many other families, Anna and her brother have to worry about their father's safety and whether he will have work in the slow times. Will he be able to find work at all if there is a strike, and how will Anna's family survive if work is not to be found?

This picture of life in turn-of-the-century Minnesota reminds readers that many immigrants who came to America looking for a better life had to face much loss and hardship on a daily basis. For some young women looking for a new life, giving away their hand in marriage was the only way that they could get what they were looking for; at least to some degree.