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At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.
Set in South Dakota farm country, this one turns on a murder. At first it’s muted, woven into other deaths—a woman who skidded off the highway and froze in the snow, and a madwoman who blew her brains out with a shotgun. The story, like Carson McCullers’s Member of the Wedding, features a 12-year-old tomboy, Samantha "Sam" McCaslin, short-haired, fistfighting, cattle-herding by horseback in winter ice, and pushing back puberty while Eickhoff loads on the local color and family background. Every fourth year or so, Sam’s birthday lands on Thanksgiving Day, and this time, in the early ’50s with the Korean War on, her birthday collapses when she slights her precious cousin Rose Marie, who eats one bean at a time and chews it thirty times. So Sam’s present of a Marlin rifle is withheld for awhile. A visiting gypsy fortuneteller warns her to watch out for danger in the snow, while another gives her an amulet against the Evil Eye. Earlier, she’d been grounded for three weeks when she asked in Sunday School whether she was a figment of God’s imagination or He a figment of hers. Then her friend and her father’s hired hand, Abel Six Feathers, is missing. Sam had got into a fistfight with Tubby Watson and been defended by Abel. After Abel’s daughter is raped, Sam and her father find Abel’s frozen body by the south fence, shot in the back. When Sam sees Abel’s split Yellowboy knife in Tubby’s hands, Tubby takes after her. Later, she rides in bad weather to take Christmas gifts to the Six Feathers family, only to find Tubby shooting at her. And then hermother is hospitalized for cancer . . . .
Nicely written—but talk about a Christmas carol.
Posted October 21, 2002
A sensitive, tenderly written book, almost in the style of Mark Twain, with beautiful, poetic details and language, but with a rawness that echoes the brutal winter of South Dakota, where the story is set. The folk art and American Indian culture woven through the book are illustrated with the same sensitivity and awareeness of culture on the book's cover.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.