A Family Arrangement
by Gabrielle Meyer
Abram Cooper has ten months to turn rough Minnesota country into a vibrant town, or his sister-in-
law will take his three sons back to Iowa with his blessing. Until then, Charlotte Lee has agreed to keep house and help raise his children as part of their bargain. But can the single father fulfill Charlotte's requirements in time to make sure that she and his boys don't leave—and take his heart with them?
Charlotte is convinced that the wilderness is no place to raise her nephews. But as she watches the community slowly develop, she sees that Abram just might be able to make it blossom. With three little matchmakers bringing her and Abram together, Little Falls could become not just a flourishing town, but the perfect home for their patchwork family.
1. In A Family Arrangement, Abram Cooper has a dream to build a town. He was not alone. Thousands of men and women sacrificed everything to make a new life for themselves and their families out west. If given the chance, would you have been a pioneer? Why or why not?
2. As part of the arrangement, Charlotte tells Abram he must have a doctor, a pastor and a teacher in Little Falls for her to consider it a real town. My how things change! For some people, they couldn’t imagine living in a town without a Starbucks or Target. What amenities couldn’t you live without?
3. Abram is a dreamer. He moved from place to place until he came to Little Falls to finally leave a legacy. In what ways have you fulfilled a lifelong dream? What dream would you like to pursue? Do you feel you’re leaving a legacy?
4. Charlotte Lee comes to Little Falls to save her nephews from a perceived danger. She is the antagonist to Abram’s dreams because of her fear. Have you missed an opportunity because of fear? Do you have any regrets? If you could go back to one event in your life and change your actions, what would it be?
5. After Abram finds partners, and the town is underway, he realizes his dream will take a lot of hard work. Sometimes the thrill of the chase is what keeps us going, but once we have what we’ve dreamed of achieving, the reality is more difficult than we had hoped. Have you experienced this in your own life? Did you give up or did you persevere?
6. As the initial laborers arrive, and the town begins to grow, Charlotte is kept busy feeding all the men. She makes three square meals a day and has a house and children to tend to. A Family Arrangement shares the joys of pioneer life, but it is quite clear that life on the frontier was very difficult. How do you think our lives compare to those of the past? With all our luxuries and modern conveniences, why are we so busy and stressed out?
7. For most of the story, Charlotte is the only woman in Little Falls. Put yourself in her shoes. Would it be difficult to be without female companionship for so long? Why or why not? What do you value the most about your female relationships?
8. Charlotte takes on the responsibility of raising her nephews without having any experience with children and no one to ask for advice or help. If you’re a mother, how much did you rely on female relationships to help you navigate through the early years?
9. When Charlotte first meets Ben, she assumes he’s there to harm her because of her preconceived ideas of Native Americans. As the story progresses, she comes to care for him dearly and even considers his marriage proposal. In your own life, do you have a person who you rejected at the beginning, but then you grew to care for? What changed your mind? How did you overcome your preconceived ideas or false impressions?
10. At the close of A Family Arrangement, what did you take away from the story? Who were your favorite characters? Did anyone or anything surprise you?
Thank you for joining me in Little Falls during the tumultuous 1850’s. My prayer is that you will have a deeper appreciation for those who went before you and a desire to leave your own legacy.