20181103_153518.jpgHappy Thursday!  Today I have a review of the beautifully-told Across the Great Lake now available from The University of Wisconsin Press!

My Thoughts:

When I’m really enjoying a book, I read it slowly and savor every word, especially when the storytelling is rich and expansive, and that was my experience with Across the Great Lake. From the first chapter, I knew that Lee Zacharias weaves a story perfectly. 

Fern Halvorson is the narrator, and at eighty-five years old, she has a big secret and a tale of a journey across Lake Michigan that looms larger than life. 

Fern’s mother could no longer take care of her; it is not completely clear at first, but her mother is overwhelmingly ill. Henrik, Fern’s father, has no choice but to take the young five-year-old Fern along with him for the winter where he works as a ship’s captain transporting railroad cars over the ice-filled, treacherous Lake Michigan. 

Fern experiences freedom on the ship with its dangerous backdrop. She is fast friends with a cat onboard and also forms a bond with a young deckhand. 

One of my favorite aspects of reading is learning, and I absorbed as much as I could about Lake Michigan and the transporting business that took place, even in the midst of winter. 

Zacharias’ characters were richly drawn, easily sentimental, and complex. Fern is now eighty-five and recalling memories from a winter when she was only five. Her memories are hazy, and maybe not completely accurate to what happened- for that is the function of memories over time. They are not perfect, but they are what we recall as most important about an experience we lived through.

The setting is so astutely drawn that you feel as if you are on the ship with Fern and all the crew. The ice and intense cold are in your face they are so realistic. 

Highly recommended for anyone who wants to fall into a well-developed and beautifully written book. Fern’s emotional story was a fantastical one to witness. 

Thank you to Caitlin Hamilton Marketing on behalf of the author for the complimentary copy to review. All opinions are my own. 


“It was a huge and powerful ship with a tall, handsome pilothouse and big smoking stacks, no place for a girl, though I loved it, I cannot tell you how much I loved it.” In her eighty-fifth year, Fern Halvorson tells the story of a childhood journey across Lake Michigan and the secret she has kept since that ill-fated voyage.

As his wife lies dying in the brutally cold winter of 1936, Henrik Halvorsen takes his daughter Fern away with him. He captains a great coal-fired vessel, the Manitou, transporting railroad cars across the icy lake. The five-year-old girl revels in the freedom of the ferry, making friends with a stowaway cat and a gentle young deckhand. The sighting of a ghost ship, though, presages danger for all aboard.

Have you read Across the Great Lake, or is it on your TBR? Do you have any favorite immersive stories? Happy Reading! ~ Jennifer THR