Evergreen is an “emotionally charged novel that spans generations, telling the story of two siblings, raised apart, attempting to share a life.” It starts out in 1938 with newlyweds Emil and Emeline, who are trying to carve out a life together in the Minnesota wilderness. Emeline is such a dainty, somewhat naive character when we first meet her. When Emil has to leave for Germany, I love how independent Emeline becomes. She is determined to learn and do things, whatever needed to be done. She ends up having to make an incredibly difficult, heart-wrenching decision which becomes the foundation of the rest of the novel. The plot isn’t surprising (especially if you read the book jacket or summary beforehand) but this is still a wonderfully character-driven read that I didn’t want to end.
My only issue with the book centers around pregnancy and birth, which I felt were overly romanticized. While pregnant, the women always just “knew” the gender of their baby, and of course, ended up being correct every time. That felt kind of silly to me, but Hux’s premature birth outright bothered me. He was two months early, yet all Emil says is “he’s tiny but fine.” I needed a little bit of followup on that for it to be believable, especially since they are out in the middle of the woods with no support. And it’s the 1930s. But after his dramatic entrance, Hux is just like a full-term baby, which made me wish the preemie thing had been left out completely. With no followup, all it does in this book is perpetuate the “a preemie is merely a tiny baby” misconception.
Other than that, I was totally into this family’s story, throughout all three generations. I wanted to stay with them even longer; I would have been okay with the book being twice as long, especially since Rasmussen’s writing is so lovely and easy to get lost in. She has a knack for bringing a setting to vivid life in relatively few words. I could imagine all the details of the Minnesota landscape perfectly in my mind. The end was a little too tidy but you know, it was still exactly how I needed it to end. Such a satisfying read!