No Ocean Too Wide

Written by Carrie Turansky
Review by B. J. Sedlock

This is an inspirational novel about a family caught up in the Home Children scheme, where impoverished British children were transported to Canada, not always with their families’ consent.

1909: Laura McAlister has a job as a maid at an estate outside of London. She learns her mother is near death in hospital, and that her brother Garth was caught stealing a loaf of bread to feed his siblings. The police have compelled the children to accompany them to a children’s home, under the threat of jail as the only alternative. Laura doesn’t discover this until after they are taken into custody. Officials won’t let Laura see or talk to her siblings, since she has no legal guardianship over them nor money to support them.

Andrew Fraser, the lawyer son of the family on whose estate Laura works, offers help, because he is interested in the child emigration scheme. Laura manages to get hired on as an escort for girls being sent to Canada on a later ship than the one which carried her siblings. Once in Ontario, Laura and Andrew discover that Garth has been assigned to a farm, with a strict yet fair man in charge. But finding Garth’s twin, Katie, and their youngest sister, Grace, proves difficult: the cruel family which took Katie in tries to keep her existence secret, and Grace’s records are destroyed in a fire.

This is a compelling story about a real-life scheme that was intended to help children out of poverty but sometimes went wrong, as when officials acted without the families’ consent. The religious content is moderate. An author’s note promises a sequel and provides a bibliography about the Home Children program. Christian romance fans will love it, and readers interested in historical child welfare issues will gain insight.