The Ticket

The Ticket

Author: Karen Schutte


Lady Liberty is the symbol of freedom and hope as she stands tall in our harbor and lights the way for new immigrants, visitors and tourists reminding us of the many freedoms and opportunities afford to us. Living in America has been the hope, goal and desire of people of many countries, cultures and nationalities. Before the First World War many German, Jewish, Polish and other immigrants flocked to America hoping to enjoy freedom, get jobs and live a better life. Hope: A strong word with many meanings as Karl Kessel, a Danube-Swabian German emigrant receives a golden opportunity and a gift that will change his life forever: A Ticket to freedom, opportunity and more. A Ticket to America: The ticket is under another person’s name and allows him to leave his wife and family to board the KronPrinz Wilheim and sail for America. As the journey begins and we get to understand and know him better the reader will learn just how hungry and determined Karl is to come to America and live his life as his own man.


The author takes the reader back in time to where it all began as an emotional upheaval in young Karl’s life caused him to embark on a journey into unknown waters to create a life for himself. Cast aside by his father and family he no longer had any real roots and was sought employment from a man named Christian Mehll whose family embraced him and taught him the inner workings of a farm, caring for horses, the appreciation of the arts, opera and much more. They gave him a purpose, life and the sense of belonging. Karl even married his eldest daughter Katja who would bear him two sons whose lives would be much different than his. With a father who favorite his brother and refused to provide for him, leaving him to fend for himself, he promised that would never happen to his sons. Every man wants success on his own. Every man want to provide for his family earning the money to pay for their needs and not depending on wages paid to him from another person. Karl had a thirst for success that could not be quenched working on his father-in-law’s farm forever. Hearing the cruel words of his father he could hardly bear the words being sad by Christian as he explained his need to leave his family behind seeking hope and opportunity in a still unexplored country called America.


Coming to America was not quite what he expected. The author takes us on Karl’s journey from his homeland to America and the friendships he makes on the ship and along the way. His friend Arnold who is with him on the ship and their hopes to work together in Cleveland get foiled as he learns a hard lesson about prejudice and gang fighting even in America in the early part of the century. As he comes to terms with what happens to his friend and trying to establish himself with his new boss and earn a living, many come to know him for the hard working, industrious and ambitious young man he is and learn to look past his heritage and where he is from.


Hard work pays off as he is offered a position in Wyoming to establish factories as their representative or agent. Having to set up the areas where they will be built, recruit worker and buy supplies proved to be difficult in a country where many did not accept him nor trust him. But, he still preserves and after taking many odd jobs, working to help an older man on his farm, purchases it and sets off on a quest to rebuild, recreate and make his one room cabin into a home for his wife and three sons when they arrive. But, Karl is insatiable and is never satisfied with what he has and his drive; determination and temper often get in his way as the author recounts many incidents when pushed really hard he reacted the same as his father did when he was younger.


Vividly describing each day, his actions, fears and feelings the reader relives the journey along with Karl as he makes a name for himself in America and becomes a successful man.


Katja Kessel lived a hard life in America. Bearing eight children and living with a man concerned about fulfilling only his dreams, mirroring his father’s cruel behaviors in many ways, Katja Kessel was determined to change things and create a better life for herself and her children at all costs. Leaving her parents and only communicating by infrequent letters, an estranged son who faced life on his own, this strong, bright and determined woman took a stand with Karl and let her voice be heard. When push came to shove and Karl’s demands were out of control in more ways than one, Katja stands up for herself, her rights and Karl soon realizes that things had better change. The author helps the reader relive Katja and Karl’s journey to America, their many years together, the joys, the tragedies and the disappointments. You can feel the frustration and the sorrows faced by Katja and Karl’s determination to become in his own eyes and what would have been that of his father’s had he remained in his homeland, a successful man. Perfection is not a true human attribute although many try to attain it. Children are taught to respect and follow the rules set by their parents at home and in school. Karl Kessel was an abusive, cruel and unyielding husband and father who tolerated nothing short of perfection and adherence to his standards and rules from everyone including himself. Trying to live up to his father’s standards all of his life, he pushes his children away and never really develops a loving and warm relationship with any of them. His answer to everything is a hard hand placed wherever it lands.


As time wears on things changed drastically between Katja and Karl and what was once a marriage of love and understanding turned into a daily nightmare. Karl Kessel never really understood his actions nor did he understand what he did to his wife who finally gave up on herself and much more. Legacies are not just about money, wealth and land. Children are part of what you leave behind and should mirror the person that you are and the values instilled in them by you. Katja Kessel was a remarkable and strong woman until she was not. An abusive father who drove his sons away and one that went off to war a died a hero, author Karen Schutte reminds us of what freedom really means and why we need to embrace them. Let Lady Liberty light the way for others to fulfill their dreams here in America.  Katja Kessel came to America to follow her husband and her dream. What about hers? Everyone has a purpose in this world, at the end Katja lost hers.


Read this heartbreaking, heartfelt, story of one families journey from the early 1900’s, the two world wars, their loves, losses, successes and much more as author Karen Schutte weaves a web of hope, despair, love, hate and for the Kessel family all because of The Ticket.


With a grandfather that came from Poland, sold apples on a street corner to provide for his family and went back to Poland to bring my grandmother’s sisters here to America, this story brings back memories of the ones he told me and the struggles, hardships, horrors and successes he faced coming to America and what he thought was the promised land. Karl Kessel lived his life as he saw fit.  What would have happened it he tore up the ticket? Would their life have been different?


Read this outstanding debut novel by author Karen Schutte and wait for the next in her series.


Fran Lewis: Reviewer




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