Astri and Greta are two sisters fallen on hard times. With their mother dead and their father gone to America to try to earn enough to bring them west, they are fostered out to an uncaring aunt and uncle. Facing hardship themselves, the aunt sells Astri into servitude to the hateful and hump-backed Goat Man (who aims to marry her against her will, among other things.) From the very start, clever but untutored Astri spends every moment she can figuring out how to get back to Greta and escape to America.
Richly filled with Norwegian folklore, this is a moving (and harsh) story of finding one’s strengths, always moving forward, learning what may and what should not be sacrificed, regret, and hope. Well done!
I do not recommend this as a Newbery contender, because of the age group that is usually given Newbery books to read. The details of more than one character’s enslavement, the attempted rape, are all too clearly depicted for young audiences.