This is a powerful story of courage, perseverance, and good ole hard work. Karl is a young man, recently released from the Prussian army after fighting in the Franco-Prussian War. He has decided that he wants to follow some of his buddies and immigrate to America, where he can build a homestead and no longer be a peasant for a nobleman. With his family’s blessing he sets off on a journey he could never have imagined. He travels by ship to Baltimore where his money is stolen before he even gets through immigration. Karl meets up with Heinrich, another young Prussian who he met on the boat, and together they set off to make something of themselves. With a little help from fellow Germans they manage to find a place to live and jobs. After saving up some money they are ready to head west. They will make stops in Chicago, working at a meat-packing plant, and Deadwood, SD, running a saloon, before Karl can finally settle on his homestead.
The author obviously did a lot of research about life in 1800’s America, as the descriptions of the various places our heroes find themselves in put the reader right in there with them. The story is inspired by the experiences of the author’s family members when they immigrated, which also lends authenticity to the story. I found Karl’s story to be quite inspiring. Even though he has his money stolen, then gets conned out of more, he never lets his dream fade. He has to take on some pretty disgusting jobs in the process but continues to keep his “eye on the prize”. This would be a good book for history buffs and also for anyone he needs a little inspiration to keep going. I think it’s important to read this type of story so that we can be reminded of the kind of spirit that made this country so great in the first place. This book would also be appropriate for teenagers on up. I’m giving “Finding the Way” a definite thumbs-up.