In the shadow of the Great Depression, long before historical changes leading toward LGBTQ advocacy and equality, eighteen-year-old Ruth Thompson defies her family's expectations to marry Duke, her long-time sweetheart. Instead, she joins a rodeo circuit in order to earn money for college and comes of age in the male-dominated culture of rodeo competition.
Ruth returns home to Minnesota a prize-winning competitor and resumes her familiar relationship with Duke. Once at college she grows increasingly restless in her role as sorority girl with Duke as her escort for all social occasions. Her safe existence is upended when she meets confident and free-spirited Gisela and then further unravels when the two women fall in love.
The lives of Ruth, Gisela, and Duke entwine while Ruth embarks on a journey of self-discovery, full of dangerous social repercussions that takes her from Minnesota to the Pacific Ocean of California. As WWII escalates, each of them faces a test of their fortitude as all three must come to grips with redemption, forgiveness, the meaning of family and how to honor their authentic truth during this perilous time in history.
Both heart wrenching and uplifting, The Winter Loon honors the strength and spirit of all those who struggle with social persecution because of who they love and how they define family whether it is their own flesh and blood kinfolk and/or those nearest and dearest to their heart.
"The Winter Loon is an ambitious, gripping, often painful story with a lot of drama and emotion, ups and downs and an ending that leaves the reader in satisfying tears."
"What a beautiful, thoughtful book. The Winter Loon offers up complex characters and issues, a multi-textured plot and lots of heart. I have felt wrapped in the cocoon of this beautiful love story."
"The Winter Loon is a compelling story of a woman's secrets, choices, and courage. Both tender and wise, Henriksen is a fine storyteller and her characters are skillfully drawn and memorable."