Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Author: LaVyrle Spencer
Publishing Date: 1986
It’s the year 1917 and World War I looms on the horizon. Linnea Brandonberg has just graduated and received her teaching certification. Against her fathers advice she takes a position in the little town of Alamo, North Dakota. Linnea is excited and scared. She has never been away from her family before and never left her home town, yet she is very excited to start her first teaching job and she is excited to see a new town. What Linnea imagines will happen, and the reality of what does actually takes place are quite different. The town is nothing but wheat farms as far as the eye can see. The town is really not a town at all, but a few small stores. The worst surprise in store for Linnea is Theodore Westgaard or Teddy as his friends and family call him. Teddy is an irascible, gruff man who is taken off guard by Linnea. He was expecting a male teacher, not a young woman, who is practically a child in his eyes. Teddy and Linnea, from the first moment they meet, butt heads with each other. Years is the story of these two unseemly, mismatched people coming together and learning to love.
Right from the beginning when Linnea and Teddy first meet, I have to say I was worried about how this story was going to play out. Teddy truly was rude and seemed like a miserable old man. Of course, first impressions can be deceiving and that is exactly what happens between Linnea and Teddy. The beauty of this story lies in the changes that occur in Linnea and Teddy. These two characters go through so much growth throughout this book. Linnea in the beginning seems very childish. She is constantly day dreaming and is very naïve about the world in general. Teddy, at first comes across as a hard unbending farmer, but slowly the reader sees that this is all just a front because he was hurt by his first wife when she left him. Underneath his stern demeanor is a gentle and loving man.
The actually story line takes place over a year or so. It is so nice to see the characters really develop their relationship over time and not just become instantly attracted to each other. Teddy and Linnea’s love for one another evolves slowly and it is very believable. They have a lot to overcome with their differences in age. Linnea is eighteen and Teddy is thirty-four and has been previously married. He has a sixteen year old son, Kristian. I thought the way Spencer handled these issues was really great. Usually, a large age difference between the characters really bothers me because there is too much of a power struggle. That was not the case with this story. Teddy really wrestles with his feelings for Linnea and he fears that he is too old for her.
Years is a deeply moving story. For those readers who believe that romances from the 80s were all about forced seduction and rape, Years breaks away from that mold. Years is a book that doesn’t need those devices to make a beautifully touching love story. The deeper message the reader takes away at the end of this story, is that a person doesn’t choose who they fall in love with and that love is a gift that should be cherished, not thrown away. Linnea convinces Teddy to take a chance on love and that it is worth fighting for. Teddy eventually does and Teddy and Linnea finally get their “Happily Ever After”.