Karen Autio

Children’s Author | Editor | Presenter | Sensitivity Reader for Disability Awareness

Saara's Passage – Reviews

Reviewed on GoodReads

Reviewed in KIdsWWwrite - Sarah's Stars by Anika, age 11, October 2009.

Reviewed by Beth L. Virtanen, Ph.D., in The Finnish American Reporter, April 2009.

Reviewed in Resource Links, April 2009.

Reviewed in BC Bookworld Spring 2009.

Reviewed by Malcolm R. Campbell on the Writer's Notebook web site.

Reviewed by CM: Canadian Review of Materials, February 6, 2009, Highly Recommended.

The following book review is used by permission from THE CHRONICLE-JOURNAL, Sunday, December 28, 2008 in Thunder Bay, ON, Canada:


Autio scores with second installment


Sometimes you read a book that's so good in every way you just want to write the author and say thanks.

Karen Autio has done a lovely job with her second book about young Saara, the girl we met in Second Watch. In that first volume, Saara survived the shipwreck of the Empress of Ireland, and in this book is continuing her life with her family in Port Arthur during the early years of the First World War.

Saara's family is from Finland and we see through her eyes the division of the Finnish community during that dreadful war. She and her parents are avid newspaper readers, following events in Europe from the apparent safety of their Bay Street neighbourhood.

Being far away from the battlefields of France and Belgium doesn't save the family from the terrors of every day. Saara's Aunt Marja is diagnosed with tuberculosis and sent away to a sanatorium, leaving her baby, Sanni, to her family's care.

Tuberculosis then had no drugs for a cure. Patients were exposed to fresh air in all seasons and given nourishing, high-calorie foods to try to build them up a bit, but it was all a matter of chance as to whether a patient survived. Aunt Marja's letters to Saara are masterpieces, full of yearning for her baby and a determinedly cheerful description of her days. Saara at 12 is just old enough to understand a little how very hard it must be for her aunt to have to rely on letters to learn how her baby is growing and changing every day.

Nowadays, we would consider a 12-year-old to be far too young to determine her own comings and goings, but Saara represents those generations of children who were allowed to be out on their own for hours as long as they made it home for meals.

Saara and her friend are witnesses to many of the stirring and upsetting events of the war years in the Lakehead. This is historically accurate in that many of the photos from that time show children on the outskirts of every crowd.

Saara must in this story find her way, or make her passage, from childhood to the world of grown-up responsibilities -- or at least the beginnings of them -- and the way is never easy. Autio depicts with care and beauty the struggles youngsters go through to do the right thing, to know the right thing to do, to think of others.

Saara's Passage is published through Sono Nis Press and available for $10.95.