Title: The Runaway FriendThe Runaway Friend
Author: Kathleen Ernst
Pages: 179
Recommended Ages: 9-12
Star Rating: ★★★

I hadn’t read an American Girl story in years…

The Story.

Kirsten and her family have only just arrived on the Minnesota frontier – and they’ve traveled all the way from Sweden to get there! They are happy to be reunited with Papa’s brother, Olav, and his family. After all, what greater blessing could they have than to start their new life alongside family?

But then, trouble begins. It seems that Uncle Olav signed a loan with his friend, Erik Sandahl, promising to pay the loan off if Erik was unable to. He didn’t think that it would ever get to that point – Erik is a good, hardworking man who only needed help getting started. It isn’t until the sheriff comes to claim Uncle Olav’s oxen to pay the debt that Uncle Olav learns that Erik has disappeared and may not have been worthy of trust after all.

Can Kirsten find Erik and discover why he left in the first place? And will Uncle Olav get his oxen back?


A great emphasis is placed on the importance of friends and family – community – in this story. Kirsten is eager to please both her mother and father and is concerned by the disappearance of Erik. Although she realizes she may be mistaken in him, she still wants to believe that his friendship with her family was true and that he never intended to unload his debt on them. She is also troubled by the apparent unhappiness of their neighbors, the Green family, and helps out around their house.

Kirsten and her cousin, Lizbeth, both make diminutive comments about their siblings, but it is also clear that they love their siblings.

Conclusion. Not fine quality stuff, but harmless.

Review © 2014 Laura Verret

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