A ninth-generation Mainer’s debut novel so happens to be a multigenerational tale of several families deeply rooted in coastal Maine — and their overlapping histories of grudges, loves, and losses merge into an atmospheric rendering of a hardscrabble fishing village.
The Penobscot River runs through this story of a small town whose set-to-reopen paper mill represents economic hope to white residents and ecological destruction to Native residents and brings tensions in the community to a dangerous head.
Motherhood, loosely defined, was at the center of Conley’s first two novels, and it is again here in her third, a taut family drama that unfolds after the protagonist’s husband is injured in a commercial-fishing accident and she’s left to manage two teenage sons on her own.
Quietly beautiful writing belies the intense emotional tumult felt in a family after the death of a child on their once-idyllic dairy farm in mid-20th-century Maine. A gut-wrenching and worthwhile reward for fans who have waited 13 years since Without aMap, Hall’s previous, acclaimed book.
The fictional, titular town hosts a complicated page-turner of a story spurred by the fallout from a young boy’s violent run-in with a moose, and though the pace is breezy, the grappling with interpersonal and interspecies relationships is serious.