Wednesday, November 23, 2011

South of Superior Review

If you enjoy reading books about the area in which we live and play (northern Wisconsin/the Upper Peninsula of Michigan), you might enjoy Ellen Airgood’s South of Superior.  In fact, if you’ve travelled in the UP at all, you may have met the author!  She’s the owner of the  West Bay Diner in Grand Marais, MI. 

The book’s setting is the UP, and even if you’ve never been there, Airgood paints a vivid picture of the environment, which plays a significant role in the novel.  In fact, I found it one of the best features of the book.

Madeline Stone, the central character, walks away from Chicago and moves five hundred miles north to the coast of Lake Superior with the idea that she might just discover the reason her grandfather refused to have anything to do with her once her mother abandoned her as a child in Chicago.  Madeline only knows the circumstances surrounding her abandonment and the kindness of Emily, a total stranger who ends up raising her and giving her the love she so desperately needs.   She really has no idea how much her life is going to change when she decides to make this move.  What follows is a novel which explores the deep reward in caring for and coming to love others in spite of differences. 
Airgood's depiction of poverty, loneliness, frustration and anger as well as loyalty, friendship and community became tangible things for me.  The line between having no money and then having enough money to spend on even partially renovating the hotel became a little fuzzy, however.  But I could set that aside enough to just enjoy the situation. 

This was the author’s first novel, so it will be fun to watch her develop her craft.  I will definitely watch for her next book. 

I should also add that the Waterford Book Club has selected this novel for its August 2012 meeting.  It should be an interesting discussion. 

No comments: