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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Crow Lake

Crow Lake

Mary Lawson
Dial, 2002

When Kate was only seven years old, her parents were killed in a car accident in rural Ontario. Her oldest brother Luke had just graduated high school, and the family was planning on his attendance at a teacher’s college. Another brother Matt was just 17, and the baby of the family, Bo, was just 1 year old. Now Kate is an adult, albeit a wounded one, who teaches zoology at a Canadian University and mulls the choices that were made long ago, when she was just a child and didn’t understand the trials her older brothers were undertaking in order to keep the family together.

Matt’s son is celebrating his 18th birthday, and Kate has been invited to a party that will also serve as a family reunion of sorts. Daniel is her significant other, an only child who had a very different upbringing that Kate did. In fact, while Kate has met Daniel’s parents, she has shared very little of her past with Daniel, which has caused a rift between them. Feeling pressure when he learns about the party, she invites him to the family farm, and the subsequent worry and concern over his reaction to her family causes her to revisit the events of her parent’s deaths and the subsequent sacrifices her older brothers made on her behalf – something which has haunted her and caused her immeasurable guilt ever since.

This quiet and unassuming book packs quite an emotional wallop. Lawson’s descriptions can’t help but draw the reader into a world of a remote and barren landscape housing multiple characters with so much personality that they jump out from the pages. Quiet and thoughtful writing definitely does not mean boring in this situation, because the tension builds through each chapter as the reader is teased with some event that changes the course of brother’s Matt’s plans and, indeed, causes Kate to be burdened with the guilt she has struggled with ever since. I could hardly put this book down and enjoyed every minute of it.


This is the author’s first novel.

Other titles you may enjoy:

The Time In Between by David Bergen (2005)
30 years after serving during the Vietnam War, Charles Boatman disappears during his return to that country, followed by his daughter, Ada, for whom the trip brings increasingly complex revelations and awareness about her life.

The Turtle Catcher by Nicole Helget (2009)
In a rural Minnesota town during World War I, Liesel, the only girl in the Richter family, hides a secret that precludes all hope of living a normal life and turns to her closest friend, Lester, a gentle, "slow" boy who spends his days trapping turtles.

October Light by John Gardner (2005)
Living in her older brother's Vermont farmhouse, penniless widow Sally Abbot finds their clashing values escalating to the point that her brother banishes her to her room with a mainstream novel she has been reading, a book that becomes reflective of their turbulent family history.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds good! I see that this is an older book; it seems familiar to me...I don't know if I recognize the name and cover from seeing it before or if I actually read it! It's hell getting old! Ha ha!