Montana 1948

by Larry Watson

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From the summer of my twelfth year I carry a series of images more vivid and lasting than any others of my boyhood and indelible beyond all attempts the years make to erase or fade them… “ So begins David Hayden’s story of what happened in Montana in 1948. The events of that cataclysmic summer permanently alter twelve-year-old David’s understanding of his family: his father, a small-town sheriff; his remarkably strong mother; David’s uncle Frank, a war hero and respected doctor; and the Haydens’ Sioux housekeeper, Marie Little Soldier, whose revelations turn the family’s life upside down as she relates how Frank has been molesting his female Indian patients. As their story unravels around David, he learns that truth is not what one believes it to be, that power is abused, and that sometimes one has to choose between family loyalty and justice.
Montana 1948 Book Trailer

Justice

It opens in 1924 with Sheriff Julian Hayden's two teenage sons going on a hunting trip to North Dakota with their friends. Their father's word is law at home and in their hometown of Bentrock, Montana, and when they get in trouble, they learn that his influence extends into neighboring states as well. Next, readers are taken back to 1899 for the story of Julian Hayden as he moves west, makes a new life homesteading on the frontier, and begins a family. The book ends in the 1930s with a section told through the eyes of Len McAuley, Julian's deputy. Major and minor characters are well developed through dramatic scenes; believable dialogue; and layers of telling detail about their dreams, emotions, and violent outbursts. The sense of both place and time?the beauty and power of the climate and wide-open spaces?is very strong. Teens will like the episodic structure?the stories are very closely connected and they all examine different aspects of the family's relationships. This prequel to Montana 1948 (Milkweed, 1993) is a readable, well-written novel for leisure reading and historical fiction assignments.?Patricia Q. Noonan, Prince William Public Library, Manassas, VA

American Boy

We were exposed to these phenomena in order that we might learn something, but of course the lessons we learn are not always what was intended.

So begins Matthew Garth’s story of the fall of 1962, when the shooting of a young woman on Thanksgiving Day sets off a chain of unsettling events in small-town Willow Falls, Minnesota. Matthew first sees Louisa Lindahl in Dr. Dunbar’s home office, and at the time her bullet wound makes nearly as strong an impression as her unclothed body. Fueled over the following weeks by his feverish desire for this mysterious woman and a deep longing for the comfort and affluence that appears to surround the Dunbars, Matthew finds himself drawn into a vortex of greed, manipulation, and ultimately betrayal.

Immersive, heart-breaking, and richly evocative of a time and place, this long-awaited new novel marks the return of a great American storyteller.