Kristina and Karl Oskar are two young farmers whose lives consist of a constant struggle against famine and oppression from church and state in Sweden in the 1850s. Karl Oskar wants to move to America - a fertile country built by free men. But Kristina doesn’t want to risk her children’s lives on the deadly voyage across the sea or expose them to a godless and unknown wilderness in a country they know almost nothing about.
When their 4-year-old daughter dies of starvation, Kristina understands that she no longer can guarantee her children’s safety in Sweden. She realizes that she and Karl Oskar need to take things into their own hands in order to create a safe home for their family.
On the small overcrowded ship that takes them to America, a new fight for survival begins; against the power of the relentless sea and a tyrannizing crew. But the ship also becomes a place for new friendship - some of which will last a lifetime and others that will lead Kristina to the brink of disaster.
After a long and hard journey they settle by the lake Ki Chi Saga in Minnesota, a secluded piece of land far away from the rest of the Swedish settlers. Unknown dangers seem to lurk everywhere, and Kristina starts to feel lonely and alienated. Therefore, she is very happy when one day, a pair of Christians that were on their ship claim the land next to them. But the joy fades as their new neighbours pull Kristina into a power play where she - step by step - is forced to distance herself from everything that isn’t the way of the old Swedish culture. Her family begins to fall apart, and Kristina slowly realizes that in her efforts to create a safety and a home for her family, she is about to lose them all. She understands that she must overcome her own fear of the unknown and allow her children to make their own decisions about their future.
Life in America forces Kristina to face her fears and stand up for herself. But will she ever truly find home in their new country?
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