Cover Image: True North

True North

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Member Reviews

True North by Gary Eller is the well-written story of a community who lives on or near the Turtle Mountain reservation in North Dakota during the 1930s-1960s and of those who live there. Each of the characters struggles to survive and move forward moving past their mistakes, secrets, and long-held grudges. Great read with beautiful description and well-crafted characters!
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With excellent description of the area, flora and fauna, the reservation at Turtle Mountain is full of isolated, unhappy people. The harsh life of the native peoples is challenging, and through Florence Little Shay and Fawn Green, we see the bitterness and hopelessness of these first people.
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Thank you to the publisher BHC Press and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this in advance.

I thoroughly enjoyed this. It's a story of a group of characters in a small notch of North Dakota nestled up against the Canadian border. Hard countryside, hard weather, hard lives for the most part.

The structure, as I was reading it felt a bit disjointed, especially in the first quarter of the book but as I fell into the rhythm of it I actually thought it added to the experience. There's one particular transition from one set of characters to another that could be taken as particularly jarring since it goes from deep hardship of the practical and psychological kinds to almost outright comedy. But it works. That particular comedic chapter put me strongly in mind of the late, great Howard Frank Mosher's tales of the the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. Some great characters, set pieces, and writing. Even that geographical setting is similar, that ignoring of the man-made border between countries and the influence of the French trappers from the Canadian side on the people on the American side.

The depressing reality of the experiences of Native Americans living on reservations and cheek-by-jowl with white people is insinuated and touched on throughout the book and I felt that there were some parallel's with Tiffany McDaniels' novel 'Betty' throughout. 

Ultimately, stories about characters like this in settings like this rarely end up well or happy and there's a lot of that here but not exclusively so,

I'd recommend this strongly.
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Harsh, gritty, bleak. This story of survival weaves together the lives of four families living in the Turtle Mountain area of North Dakota. Set across three decades, the reader witnesses the tangled and messy long-standing grudges and generational hardships of these families.
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This one isn't for me. The writing wasn't incredibly interesting and it seemed like the story was too slow to start. It seems the author has read too much Steinbeck and was trying his best to emulate him here, though failing miserably.
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