Unknown human remains are discovered deep within the mosaic of rugged forests and interconnected waterways once home to the native Ojibwe people.
More than 30 years later, fresh news of the cold case reopens old wounds for an Arizona family, from a time when gender stereotypes, racial bigotry, and small-town gossip led to tragedy. Now, three generations — a mother, son and granddaughter — embark on a cross-country journey in a search for truth and a hope of redemption.
As long-buried secrets are unearthed, they each begin to question their memories, motives, and basic notions of good and evil.
Plot/Idea: As three generations of a family set out together on a long distance trip, the central idea—retrieving memories and discovering ties between the past and present—is skillfully woven into the story's backdrop of murder, mystery, and cultural heritage.
Prose: Timelines alternate fluidly between the 1950s and '90s, gifting the story unique perspectives on racial tensions and gender stereotypes in each time period. McCann's prose is above average, crafted with vibrant imagery and stark contrasts between the past and present.
Originality: This is a memorable portrait of the Ojibwe culture and their stories, spirituality, and customs as an indigenous tribe. McCann treats important topics, including discrimination, racism, and sexism, with grace and a gentle spirit.
Character/Execution: The story's grandmother, Evelyn, along with her son Frank and his daughter, April, are well-honed characters with intricate thoughts and emotions. Maakade, a Black Ojibwe man in the 1950s timeline, is a study in the devastating effects of assimilation. His nature-born wisdom is delightful, and his influence in both Evelyn and Frank's development is moving.
Date Submitted: July 11, 2023