Crow Lake by Mary Lawson
Now, this was something like!
I've had a run of bad luck with books lately. I've read a lot of second-rate or even revolting books, and there has been such a run of them that I was beginning to get desperate for something really excellent.
And this was it!
This book has all the elements that particularly draw me into a story--excellent characters, a non-linear timeline (the narrator in the present is telling a story that happened in the past, but there is current action as well). As with many of the books that I like, the basic plot could be summarized in two or three sentences. There is a plot, of course, but this is a character-driven story.
The prologue begins
My great-grandmother Morrison fixed a book rest to her spinning wheel so that she could read while she was spinning, or the story goes. And one Saturday evening she became so absorbed in her book that when she looked up, she found that it was half past midnight and she had spun for half an hour on the Sabbath day. Back then, that counted as a major sin.
Great-grandmother Morrison has long since passed away, but her intense passion for knowledge and education is still affecting her descendants. Katie and her brother Matt lay on their stomachs for hours, gazing into the pond, watching the tadpoles, water-bugs, turtles, and other pond life. They dream of studying and learning. Matt has the deep sense of wonder that gives life to such studies, and Katie absorbs his interests and passions, never guessing that they will eventually cause a gulf between her and her brother.
I just loved this story, full of imperfect people making mistakes, taking on life as it comes, making the best of bad situations, keeping promises, and taking care of each other the best that they can.
This was Mary Lawson's first book, published in 2002. I'll definitely be keeping my eyes open for other books she's written.