Novel Approach: Resilience and love define ‘You Belong Here Now’

“When everything goes to hell, the people who stand by you without flinching —they are your family. ” —Jim Butcher

Finding a place where you belong isn’t easy for everyone. Sometimes people have to stumble and falter before they can find their true home.

In our latest read, we travel to Montana, with three orphans who unexpectedly find a place at a small family ranch in the 1920s.

You Belong Here Now by Dianna Rostad

In her debut novel, Dianna Rostad takes readers on a stroll of perseverance and hardship in “You Belong Here Now.” Rostad’s novel follows the sorry tale of three orphans who decide to abandon the orphan train they’re riding after potential parents have found them lacking.

In Montana, Nara Stewart is a grown woman trying to get her parents to see her value as a rancher, as she hopes her father will pass down the family business to her. Nara works herself to the bone in her brother’s absence while trying to sidestep her mother’s disappointment at her supposed spinsterhood.

When Nara catches a teenage boy trying to steal a horse from her barn, she doesn’t expect it will result in her parents deciding to take in three orphans. Soon, Nara and the orphans learn to adjust and love each other, as they overcome the difficulties of the children’s pasts and the bumpy adjustment to ranch life.

“You Belong Here Now” is a story about forgiveness, resilience and found families, set against the gritty backdrop of a Montana ranch.

From the book jacket…

Montana 1925: An Irish boy orphaned by Spanish flu, a tiny girl who won’t speak, and a volatile young man who lies about his age to escape Hell’s Kitchen, are paraded on train platforms across the Midwest to work-worn folks. They journey countless miles, racing the sun westward.

Before they reach the last rejection and stop, the oldest, Charles, comes up with a daring plan, and alone, they set off toward the Yellowstone River and grassy mountains where the wild horses roam.

Fate guides them toward the ranch of a family stricken by loss. Nara, the daughter of a successful cattleman, has grown into a brusque spinster who refuses the kids on sight. She’s worked hard to gain her father’s respect and hopes to run their operation, but if the kids stay, she’ll be stuck in the kitchen.

Nara works them without mercy, hoping they’ll run off, but they buck up and show spirit, and though Nara will never be motherly, she begins to take to them. So, when Charles is jailed for freeing wild horses that were rounded up for slaughter, and an abusive mother from New York shows up to take the youngest, Nara does the unthinkable, risking everything she holds dear to change their lives forever.

If you enjoy…

For readers interested in more tales about the children whose lives were altered when they rode an orphan train out West, consider picking up Christina Baker Kline’s novel “Orphan Train.”