You Belong Here Now by Dianna Rostad

Inspiring and highly complimentary words for this stunning debut novel.

Dianna Rostad was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. Her parents and extended family come from the ranches of Montana and the farms of Arkansas. Dianna raised three kind, human beings, and when they began to test their wings, she took to writing with a passion, completing Southern Methodist University Writer’s Path program in 2009. A favorite task of her creative endeavors is the discovery and research of people and places where her novels are set. She has traveled extensively to pursue the last artifacts of our shared history and breathe life, truth, and hope into her novels. Now living in Florida, Dianna continues to write big-hearted novels for wide audiences everywhere.

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Saddle up for this tale of orphans from New York City, Charles, Patrick, and Opal who have escaped an Orphan Train and their providential arrival on the Stewart Ranch in Montana. Mama, Papa, and spinster daughter Nara are working ‘round the clock to keep the ranch going now that Jim, lead ranch hand, has been fired. Mama heard that an ‘orphan train’ was due in town and suggested that choosing a child might be an option to help with the workload.

Debut novelist, Dianna Rostad, introduces readers to the Big Sky state with stunning descriptions of the ranch, along with the daily rituals and rhythms of wild Mustangs. Background history of the Cheyenne and the Battle of Little Big Horn, helps readers understand the struggles between lead ranch hand, Jim, Mr. Stewart, and Nara.  Nara, not keen on kitchen duties and preparing to take over the ranch one day, reads and studies ideas to improve the ranch. Rostad reveals Nara’s vulnerability when she readily admits to not being motherly, but readers will cheer her on in emboldened confrontations with the sheriff. Learning and growing with Nara is heartwarming and her flashback feelings when dealing with long-time friend and foe, Ella add fiery tension and angst over guilt and forgiveness.

Readers’ emotional bonds grow quickly and deeply for each of the orphans: Charles, overcoming anger and fear from events back in New York’s “Hell’s Kitchen,” Patrick, dealing with Irish hatred, and youngest Opal, abused and so confused she rarely speaks. Strong character development is revealed through Charles’ protective escapades dealing with Patrick and Opal at school, adding a layer of love to cover his past. Patrick exhibits great independent thinking and shows readers “stay true to yourself,” while Opal is like a rose blooming in slow motion photography-one petal at a time her true nature shines when love and trustworthy adults enter her life. (Feelings so real that waking in the night with worry might happen!)

Nara’s observation of Opal “skipping with joy” is so satisfying but then her view that “things come in threes” flips readers over to anxious suspense with events involving the orphans. Feelings of resentment, remorse, and regret come to the surface, but in the end, family is apologies and forgiveness, “standing shoulder to shoulder with a warm hand on your back.”  

Five brilliant stars shine on You Belong Here Now.   

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