Thursday, January 5, 2012


So far in 2012 I haven't signed up for a single challenge. While I keep thinking I will look for a TBR challenge, I also know myself. And yet, as I say that, I have already begun my second book off my stacks in the past two days. So, while two books does not reduce my TBR pile or even make a dent in it, it is a start. And this way since I am not naming titles of books I intend to read, I have a wide selection to choose from.

The first book plucked from one of the many TBR piles in my home was Wingshooters by Nina Revoyr. Back when it was published - really not so long ago- Feb, 2011- it was an Indie Bound Indienext selection. The honor is well deserved.

There is a lot to like in this book. Being a midwesterner, I loved the small town, Deerhorn, Wisconsin setting. While I am a bit too young to remember the early 70s, I liked the 1974 setting and Revoyr's ability to make it feel like 1974. And, I loved the plot.

Michelle, or Mike, as her grandfather calls her, is being raised by her father's parents. Her dad has gone off to try and find her mother, although as time passes there is a question of whether he is really looking or just moving on with his life. Michelle is the only person in Deerhorn, Wisconsin, who is not white. Her mother is Japanese, and in fact, Michelle spent part of her early childhood living in Japan. Because of her Japanese heritage, Michelle is picked on and set apart. She doesn't have friends, and although her grandparents love her and raise her as if she were their own, her grandfather is a bigot. Charles doesn't appear to notice that Michelle is treated differently, but he is the first to join up with some friends and cause trouble when a young African American couple move to town. Mr. Garrett is a substitute teacher in Deerhorn and his wife is a nurse at a clinic that has opened to treat the poor from the area. Michelle chronicles the events surrounding the Garrett's arrival and their eventual departure from this small community. Initially believing that all of Deerhorn's residents felt like her grandfather, it surprises Michelle to learn that not everyone subscribed to the same viewpoint.
Long before this book was done, I was in love with this story. Although not a cheerful book, it certainly gives a picture of what life could have been like in 1974 in small town America. It is hard for me to believe that people could be so close minded and racist in such recent times, and yet we have seen proof of that throughout history. Revoyr also does a great job of creating complex characters. Michelle's grandfather should have been easy to hate, and yet the love and care he showed for her makes us see him in a different light.

Wingshooters could easily have been an Oprah Book Club pick. It has that sort of feel to it, and I will definitely be looking at other books this author has already published.

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