Steal the North is a love story and family saga set on the edge of an Indian reservation in eastern Washington.
Emmy Nolan is a shy sixteen-year-old girl living a sheltered life in Sacramento when a phone call comes from an aunt she never knew she had. Fifteen years earlier, Emmy’s mom, Kate, had fled her tiny eastern Washington hometown and the fundamentalist church that had condemned her for having a child out of wedlock. With baby Emmy on her hip, Kate had boarded a bus, leaving behind her beloved sister, Beth. Now, Kate cannot say no to Beth’s desperate plea: She needs Emmy to participate in a faith healing ceremony. She believes it is her last chance to have a child.
Emmy goes north reluctantly, but before long, she feels connected to the rugged landscape of coulees and scablands, even to the wheat fields her absent father chose over her. She develops a strong relationship with her aunt and uncle, and she meets Reuben Tonasket, the Native American neighbor boy next door, who, like Emmy, struggles with the conflicted past of his parents and his tribe. A tragic event will test their love—and Emmy’s resolve to hold tight to the place she knows is home.
Set in a part of the country where age-old tensions of cowboys versus Indians still simmer, Steal the North is deftly narrated by its unforgettable cast of characters. With an exceptional sense of place, Bergstrom’s debut is an evocative tale in which the question of home is a spiritual one, in which facing the past is the only hope for the future.