COPYRIGHT “THE FINNISH AMERICAN REPORTER” DO NOT REPRODUCE WITHOUT PERMISSION Lillback's Work of Interest to Family By Beth L. Virtanen Associate Professor of English University of Puerto Rico The two books, Finn Hollow of Fairport, Ohio, and Lempi of Finn Hollow are retellings of the history of the author Elaine Lillback's mother. Taken together, they are variations on a theme. The former is more traditional a biography and the latter a narrative version of some of the same thematic territory. The first, Finn Hollow, is introduced by a section defining the motivation of Finns, particularly Lempi Tikka's family, for coming to America. Following this introduction, the text is narrated in question and answer format, progressing from the motivations for immigration; through the retelling of incidents in the family's life, discussions of proverbs, honesty, faith and discipline; ending finally with a discussion of issues of cultural significance to the family. These issues include education, confirmation, the church, schooling, temperance, music, and married life. This text is thoroughly illustrated with old photographs that have been clearly identified and explained. The cover of the book is a delightful, full-color folk art drawing done by the author. Within, it reads like a transcript of an interview of the mother Lempi by her daughter Elaine. It culminates with replicated documents used for travel by members of the family and includes a bibliography documenting the sources upon which the author drew in her research. The sequel to Finn Hollow is Lempi. With the same quaint folk art-style cover as the former text, this book moves from the question and answer format to retell the life of Lempi Tikka in a more conventional narrative structure. Told in eighteen chapters spanning Lempi's life from her arrival from Finland to an epilogue defining the lives of her descendents, the text is amply illustrated with photos and more folk art, some in black and white and some in full color. Each chapter in the body is comprised of a short story that moves forth the action of the main narrative by retelling a significant time in the protagonist's youth. The chapters include stories about Lempi's birth, the trip to America, difficulty in settling in the new world, stories of winter fun and berry picking, Lempi's first days at school, and other cute stories. This text is entertaining and designed to share what was special about an immigrant woman growing up in America, including incidents from her childhood and her aspirations for life. Happily the text concludes by stating how Lempi Tikka's descendents reached those goals for her. The language of both texts is simple and direct, and the message clear: the Tikka family and the community of Finn Hollow, Ohio, were special indeed.
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