Mystery, determination to lead the fight | It’s entertainment
This month’s two novels speak to the deep and resounding courage that we all have within ourselves. From the fight for their people and their rights to the fight for their personal world, each author has created a world in which speaking up is not only important, but essential. These themes are always relevant, but especially for the month of May which is Mental Health Awareness Month. As a reminder to our readers, you matter and that these characters give you the courage to keep fighting.
“The Night Watchman” by Louise Erdrich (Harper)
Set in 1953 in an impoverished Native American reservation community in rural North Dakota, “The Night Watchman” will instantly hold your attention. Thomas Wazhashk is the night watchman of the Jewelry Factory, the first factory there. He is also a member of the Chippewa Council trying to figure out the consequences of a new “emancipation” bill en route to the floor of the United States Congress.
Pixie Paranteau, too, works for the jewelry factory to support her mother and brother. Despite this, she’s desperate to hold on to every penny she can to try to find her older sister, Vera, who hasn’t been heard from in months. That won’t stop Pixie from heading to Minneapolis to try to find her, no matter what the consequences.
They, along with young Chippewa boxer, Wood Mountain, and his mother, Juggie Blue, his niece and Pixie’s best friend, Valentine and Stack Barnes, are driven to fight against the worst and best impulses of human nature. This majestic fictional world forces readers to consider what the efforts of a community can accomplish, where the courage and history of Native American tribes comes from.
If you love historical fiction, memorable characters, and want to learn more about the displacement and elimination of Native American tribes in the 1950s, this is the novel for you.
This novel won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2021. It is based on Erdrich’s grandfather, who actually worked as a night watchman and led the fight against Native dispossession from North Dakota to Washington, D.C. CD Available from major booksellers and libraries.
“Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens
Kya Clark is barefoot, wild, and frankly, unfit for polite society. So when popular Chase Andrews was found dead in late 1969, locals immediately suspected her. But Kya isn’t exactly what the locals claim she is. She lived and thrived alone for years in the swamp, befriending the gulls and drawing her upbringing from the land itself. Yet there comes a time when she is pulled into a new world by new desires and new people.
Beautifully written, this fictional novel is an exquisite ode to the natural world and the resilience we all have within. It is thought-provoking and invites readers to remember that you are forever shaped by the children you once were. If you like mystery, murder and digging deep to find the will to survive, then this is the novel for you.
“Where the Crawdads Sing” was written in 2018, but has moved up the “Most Played This Week” lists as it’s currently being made into a major movie. The film’s release date is July 15, 2022. Available at major bookstores and the library.