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When a young oil rig widow escapes her grief and the Texas Dust Bowl, she discovers a surprising future—and new passion—awaiting her in California in this lyrically written romance by the author of Sing for Me.

Newly married to her childhood sweetheart, twenty-one-year-old Ruth Warren is settling into life in a Depression-era, East Texas oil town. She’s making a home when she learns that her young husband, Charlie, has been killed in an oil rig accident. Ruth is devastated, but then gets a chance for a fresh start: a scholarship from a college in Pasadena, CA. Ruth decides to take a risk and travel west, to pursue her one remaining dream to become a teacher.

At college Ruth tries to fit into campus life, but her grief holds her back. When she spends Christmas with some old family friends, she meets the striking and compelling Thomas Everly, whose own losses and struggles have instilled in him a commitment to social justice, and led him to work with Mexican migrant farmworkers in a camp just east of Los Angeles. With Thomas, Ruth sees another side of town, and another side of current events: the numerous forced deportations without due process of Mexicans, along with United States citizens of Mexican descent.

After Ruth is forced to leave school, she goes to visit Thomas and sees that he has cobbled together a night school for the farmworkers’ children. Ruth begins to work with the children, and establishes deep friendships with people in the camp. When the camp is raided and the workers and their families are rounded up and shipped back to Mexico, Ruth and Thomas decide to take a stand for the workers’ rights—all while promising to love and cherish one another.

Photograph © Greg Halvorsen Schreck

Karen Halvorsen Schreck is the author of three previous novels, Sing for Me, Dream Journal, and While He Was Away. She received her doctorate in English and Creative Writing from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her short stories and articles have appeared in Literal Latté, Other Voices, Image, as well as other literary journals and magazines, and have received various awards, including a Pushcart Prize, an Illinois State Arts Council Grant, and in 2009, first prize awards for memoir and devotional magazine writing from the Evangelical Press Association. A freelance writer and frequent visiting professor of English at Wheaton College, Karen lives with her husband and two children in Wheaton, Illinois.

“Well-written, lyric… Readers will love Ruth's stamina and heart, and come away with a new understanding of immigrant experiences both then and now.”

– Publishers Weekly

“A masterfully written historical novel …Broken Ground is not to be missed.”

– USA Today

"The characters remind the reader that while the world is full of broken people, promises and ground, there is hope. Ruth is an encouraging character who finds herself after losing everything."

– RT Book Reviews (4 Stars)

"A wonderfully engaging and consistently compelling read... highly recommended."

– Midwest Book Review

"The evocative story proceeds fluidly, in the strong and delightful voice that is Ruth’s. The stark landscape of Oklahoma, the emotional tugs of the heart, and the rewarding outcomes all meld together to form a compelling novel."

– Historical Novel Society

"Karen Halvorsen Schreck has done it again… Engaging, lyrical, and inspirational"

– Julie Cantrell, New York Times bestselling author of The Feathered Bone

"Karen Halvorsen Schreck tells a compelling story, emotionally honest and beautifully written.

– Joshilyn Jackson, author of The Opposite of Everyone

"With the greatest empathy and insight, Broken Ground lays bare the brutal reality of a young widow's struggle to survive in Depression-era America. Schreck captures the subtleties of the American South and West with such muscle–her detailed eye snagging every detail–that I felt as if I’d been dropped into another time and place."

– Christine Maul Rice, author of Swarm Theory

“A wonderful novel… large-hearted and well-researched...makes an important contribution to current debates about immigration andprovides a much-needed example of Christianity as a force for compassion,enlightenment, and social justice.”

– Trudy Lewis, author of The Empire Rolls