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Reviewed by Maria Beltran for Readers' Favorite
Old Stone Face by Eve Gwartney is set in Denmark at a time when children as young as eleven and twelve could be indentured to wealthy farmers. When Maren and Britta Iversen's father died at sea, their mother had no choice but to send them to be indentured on Agner Estridsen's farm. Together the two young girls worked hard on the farm and found comfort in each other, and in a large old stone they dubbed Old Stone Face. It is where they could let their imaginations wander and escape life's harsh reality. It is also where they met Dansel and her daughter Tessa that would affect their lives in more ways than one. At the same time, the street smart Vike also worked on the farm, and his bullying ways would change the life of the two little girls forever.
Eve Gwartney's Old Stone Face is a coming of age story set in historical Scandinavia. When Maren and Britta find themselves indentured on a wheat farm, they had to grow up fast beyond their years. The events that followed are as unexpected as they are heart-wrenching, so much so that empathizing with the two little girls will become a natural reaction for readers. Eve Gwartney's vivid and lyrical descriptive style enhances the story. But what is most interesting is that she is able to weave a rich variety of themes into her novel. This is a tale of sibling bonds, friendship, sorrow, imagination, love and, above all, it is a tribute to the enduring human spirit.