Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Karen Halvorsen Schreck  

Pen Name: None


Born: 1962 in Elmhurst, Illinois

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Illinois Connection

Schreck was born in Elmhurst. She received her doctorate in English and Creative from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She currently resides in Wheaton.

Biographical and Professional Information

Karen Halvorson Schreck is a frequent visiting professor of English at Wheaton College. She also works as a freelance writer and editor. Her short stories and articles have appeared in ''Literal Latté'', ''Other Voices'', ''Image'', as well as other literary journals and magazines.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Lucy's Family Tree
ISBN: 0884482928

Tilbury House Publishers. 2006

* CBC/NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Book *
* Honor Book -- Society of School Librarians International *

Identity issues can be particularly troubling for adoptive children and this often makes the family tree assignment many teachers are fond of, truly problematic. Lucy's Family Tree tells the story of how one girl completes her class assignment and in the process discovers that few families conform to the "traditional family" definition she has envisioned.

Lucy’s adoption makes her feel as though her family is too “different” for a family tree project at school, but as she realizes that many families are different, she ends up creating a family tree that celebrates both her past and present. The last pages in the book offer helpful alternatives to the traditional family tree project.

Teachers will appreciate learning new approaches to designing family trees that are more inclusive of family diversity.

Color throughout

Dream Journal
ISBN: 1423101065

Hyperion Book CH. 2008

“Will she die soon?”

Sixteen-year-old Livy Moore has finally summoned the courage to ask about her mother’s illness. But she already knows the answer: for two years, Livy has watched her mother grow smaller and weaker. Now, in a series of journal entries, Livy chronicles the summer before her junior year--the summer she watches her mother slip away from her, as she succumbs to breast cancer.

Livy has survived the pain of losing her mother by shutting herself off from the rest of the world. She has alienated herself from her best friend, and her and her father live as strangers in the same house, barely speaking, and never allowing themselves to share the grief that is tearing each of them apart. But when Livy gets swept up in a strong but ill-fated crush, and her mother’s condition worsens, she must learn to trust not only those around her, but herself.

A beautifully written coming-of-age novel, Dream Journal gazes unflinchingly at the pain of loss and the beauty in survival.

While He Was Away
ISBN: 140226402X

Sourcebooks Fire. 2012

One year―he'll be gone for one year and then we'll be together again and everything will be back to the way it should be.

The day David left, I felt like my heart was breaking. Sure, any long–distance relationship is tough, but David was going to war―to fight, to protect, to put his life in danger. We can get through this, though. We'll talk, we'll email, we won't let anything come between us.

I can be on army girlfriend for one year. But will my sweet, soulful, funny David be the same person when he comes home? Will I? And what if he doesn't come home at all...?

"A tender and honest examination of love, longing, and loyalty in the face of modern war."―Laura Ruby, author of Bad Apple

"While He Was Away is a wonderful love story with writing that is skillful and true."―Amy Timberlake, author of That Girl Lucy Moon

Sing For Me (Thorndike Clean Reads)
ISBN: 141047061X

Thorndike Press. 2014

When a good church girl starts singing in a jazz club and falls for the music--as well as a handsome African American man--she struggles to reconcile her childhood faith with her newfound passions.
Raised in the Danish Baptist Church, Rose Sorensen knows it's wrong to sing worldly songs. But Rose still yearns for those she hears on the radio--"Cheek to Cheek," "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes"--and sings them when no one is around.
One day, Rose's cousin takes her to Calliope's, a jazz club, where she dis-covers an exciting world she never knew existed. Here, blacks and whites mingle, brought together by their shared love of music. And though Rose wor-ries it's wrong--her parents already have a stable husband in mind for her--she can't stop thinking about the African American pianist of the Chess Men, Theo Chastain. When Rose returns to the jazz club, she is offered the role of singer for the Chess Men. The job would provide money to care for her sister, Sophy, who has cerebral palsy--but at what cost?
As Rose gets to know Theo, their fledgling relationship faces prejudices she never imagined. And as she struggles to balance the dream world of Calliope's with her cold, hard reality, she also wrestles with God's call for her life. Can she be a jazz singer? Or will her faith suffer because of her worldly ways?
Set in Depression-era Chicago and rich in historical detail, "Sing for Me" is a beautiful, evocative story about finding real, unflinching love and embracing--at all costs--your calling.

Broken Ground: A Novel
ISBN: 1476794839

Howard Books. 2016

When a young oil rig widow escapes her grief and the Texas Dust Bowl, she discovers a surprising future—and new passion—awaiting her in California in this lyrically written romance by the author of Sing for Me.

Newly married to her childhood sweetheart, twenty-one-year-old Ruth Warren is settling into life in a Depression-era, East Texas oil town. She’s making a home when she learns that her young husband, Charlie, has been killed in an oil rig accident. Ruth is devastated, but then gets a chance for a fresh start: a scholarship from a college in Pasadena, CA. Ruth decides to take a risk and travel west, to pursue her one remaining dream to become a teacher.

At college Ruth tries to fit into campus life, but her grief holds her back. When she spends Christmas with some old family friends, she meets the striking and compelling Thomas Everly, whose own losses and struggles have instilled in him a commitment to social justice, and led him to work with Mexican migrant farmworkers in a camp just east of Los Angeles. With Thomas, Ruth sees another side of town, and another side of current events: the numerous forced deportations without due process of Mexicans, along with United States citizens of Mexican descent.

After Ruth is forced to leave school, she goes to visit Thomas and sees that he has cobbled together a night school for the farmworkers’ children. Ruth begins to work with the children, and establishes deep friendships with people in the camp. When the camp is raided and the workers and their families are rounded up and shipped back to Mexico, Ruth and Thomas decide to take a stand for the workers’ rights—all while promising to love and cherish one another.


  • Pushcart Prize

  • Illinois State Arts Council Grant

  • First Prize Awards for memoir and devotional magazine writing from the Evangelical Press Association

    Speaking Engagements

    Speaking Engagement Availability: (Yes)