In 2017, A New Life, New York to Chicago was included in the anthology, Family Stories from the Attic, edited by Lisa Rivero and Christi Craig. It is part of the account of my maternal grandmother, Kristine Kristiansen’s immigrant experience. With my mother, Odny, she traveled from a small town on the West coast of Norway to her husband, my grandfather, Fredrik Hjelmeland. Married in Norway, my grandfather had preceded my grandmother to the United States to prepare for her to join him in building a life together. Their reunion was delayed by the birth of my mother. A New Life tells of my grandmother’s anticipation of that reunion and lifts up a fragment of her immigrant story.
Kristine, Finding Home Norway to America was published in 2019. Drawing on multiple written primary sources it is creative non-fiction. My grandfather’s letters home to his sisters and brothers have been preserved and translated from Norwegian. A smaller number from my grandmother survive. n addition, I have used a series of essays my mother Odny Hjelmeland Reckling wrote for her Norwegian class when she was a student at St. Olaf college from 1942 to 1946. These documents provide the opening quote of each chapter. Finally, I have the benefit of oral history and photos. I have traveled often to my grandparents and mother’s home in Norway, the first time with my maternal grandmother, Kristine. This experience and these resources allow me to imagine the feelings and conversations that took place. In this narrative, I have tried to convey the story within the facts we have. It is my goal to share with future generations of my family, the strength of spirit that is their heritage and some of the fascinating people who came before them.
I am continuing to practice the craft of writing and hope to be able to share some of that on this web-site. Happy reading.