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"The authentic descriptions transport readers effortlessly into the era."

5 stars from Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite

Living with her in-laws is stifling. Paulina longs for a home of her own. Her husband needs land to farm and jumps at the chance of a free homestead in Oklahoma. It’s the craziest lottery in history – the great Land Rush of 1893. But how secure will Paulina and Gerhard’s young family be on territory stolen from the Cherokee?

Tsali seeks security for his family too, but the white men are trampling over his Cherokee heritage. Will he conform to the settlers’ way of life, or be drowned by it?

As drought bites and cultures collide, Gerhard is forced to leave the homestead in search of work. Paulina encounters the Cherokee family living nearby, and is grateful for Tsali’s help during her husband’s absence. But their friendship threatens to tear her family and close-knit Mennonite community apart.

The Cherry Stone: A family's struggle to homestead on the Cherokee Strip

Excerpt from Chapter One

A charming tale of bravery and hope.

Claire Russell, Sidmouth, UK

Déjà vu. She had the strangest feeling that she had done this before. What was causing it? Paulina paused, the paring knife suspended over the cutting board. She thought it might be the hens clucking softly in the yard or a whimper from the baby in the basket. She looked over to check that the little one was still asleep, snug under the yellow-and-brown patchwork comforter. A blond curl poked out, and a little fist lay limp beside it. Paulina smiled, picked up another cherry, and cut it in half.

The memory came flooding back. She’d done this same thing with her mother back in Russia. They, too, had been preparing for a journey, preserving cherries to take with them. She’d been so excited, pestering her mother with questions and eating more fruit than she’d contributed to the pot.

All those years ago and six thousand miles across the sea, and yet the cherries looked the same, felt the same: smooth, shiny, plump, and filled with the sunshine they’d absorbed as they ripened in the late spring. Paulina popped one into her mouth. There was a moment of resistance from the cherry skin before it burst. Sour juice spurted and made her mouth water. She recalled crying the first time she’d bitten into a cooking cherry; it had been such a shock when the tart juice hit her tongue. These cherries were the same, sour and refreshing. And at times she still felt like the same six-year-old girl.

Some things stayed the same across continents, across time.

Now she was preparing for another journey, not as far but just as risky. It struck Paulina that her mother must have harbored similar fears of leaving the close-knit German Mennonite community and starting a new life with a young family.

Cut in half, scoop out the stone, drop in the pot. Cut in half, scoop out the stone, drop in the pot.

The routine was comforting. She wondered if her mother had thought so, too. Russia was a long way from Kansas, but some things stayed the same across continents, across time.


The Cherry Stone: A family's struggle to homestead on the Cherokee Strip