'Winter Loon' by Susan Bernhard was a complex and compelling read - lyrical, elegant, emotional and haunting. Apart from the ambiance, Susan's writing was also authentic, gritty and disturbing. WL had a 'coming of age' feel merged with a fate theme and I believe it is Susan's debut novel - what an amazing talent! Sometimes, you know when you've read a special novel - well-thought-out plot, memorable characters and effective writing. Set in a fictional small town, Loma, in rural Minnesota, the imagery of the bleak atmospheric winters was vivid. Protagonist, Wes Ballot's young life altered when tragedy, pain and loss struck with ferocity. At fifteen, he had to learn to survive the wicked harshness of his grandparents, an absent father, the mysteries of his dead mother and his own solitary existence. What Wes lacked was an anchor and a role model. Jolene became important to him as did her family, the Hightowers. Wes endeavoured to solve puzzles and find his identity and at the same time, he needed to wade through the murky mess that was his family - their motivations, conspiracies, bitterness, ugly circumstances, behaviours etc. Would Wes realise there is a time for resolution and a time to let it all go? I bought WL as a Kindle Daily Deal and found it to be profound. But it could also be overwhelmingly sad with a heavy sense of hopelessness (this may not be to everyone's taste). Susan's writing was gripping and unyielding, yet beautiful, too.
It was a well written book, the prose interesting and easy to read. The story of Wes and his discovery of himself as a person was painful to read. The abuse, alcoholism, and lack of family values passing from one generation to the next. The white families look down on the Indian friends Wes makes thinking they are not good enough. It is Jolene and her family who teach Wes values the meaning of family and friendship. They encourage, and support him in his quest to find his father. The only reason I gave it three stars was because of the morbid nature of the story and the continual setbacks that Wes received it was relentless. This book is a tearjerker if you like emotional books I recommend it.
Wes is a boy abandoned by his parents emtionally and physically through death. tring to understand what life has dealt him. Of grandparents who live in a world of anger, hate, bitterness and disappointment. Of loving someone more than breathing. Of risking it all to be at peace with yourself. And of course Elizabeth the cat who was the only thing one man ever was constant with his love, for A beautiful book
I so enjoyed this story, felt I was there with every character. Portrayal of a hard life and scarred people just doing what they can to survive each day, the impact on those around them how they dealt with their past. Well done to the author, hope there is more like this coming our way.