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Crow Lake
Mary Lawson
Adult Fiction LAWSON

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Four children living in northern Ontario struggle to stay together after their parents die in an auto accident in Lawson's fascinating debut, a compelling and lovely study of sibling rivalry and family dynamics in which the land literally becomes a character. Kate Morrison narrates the tale in flashback mode, starting with the fatal car accident that leaves seven-year-old Kate; her toddler sister, Bo; 19-year-old Luke; and 17-year-old Matt to fend for themselves. At first they are divided up among relatives, but the plan changes when Luke gives up his teaching college scholarship to get a job and try to keep them together. The fractured family struggles mightily against the grinding rural poverty of Crow Lake, and the brothers conduct a fierce battle of wills to control their fate, until they both finally land jobs and the family gets some assistance from a neighbor. Unfortunately, that assistance can't overcome the deranged rage of a neighboring farmer, Cyrus Pye, and when Matt becomes involved with Pye's daughter, Maria, a tragic incident robs the brilliant young man of a chance to pursue a career as a naturalist. Kate goes on to become a zoologist at a Toronto college and marry a fellow academic, but her frustration with her brother's fate renders her unable to return to Crow Lake to visit him until the pivotal climax. Lawson delivers a potent combination of powerful character writing and gorgeous description of the land. Her sense of pace and timing is impeccable throughout, and she uses dangerous winter weather brilliantly to increase the tension as the family battles to survive. This is a vibrant, resonant novel by a talented writer whose lyrical, evocative writing invites comparisons to Rick Bass and Richard Ford. (Mar.) Forecast: The combination of orphan protagonists and effortless prose makes this an irresistible first effort. Foreign rights have already been sold in nine countries, and similar enthusiasm should be expected in the U.S. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Kate Morrison, the quietly complicated narrator of this lovely first novel of tangled tragedies, relives childhood events in the small Canadian farming community of Crow Lake, Ont., during a family reunion. When Kate is only seven, her parents are killed in a car accident, and her 19-year-old brother, Luke, relinquishes academic success to keep the siblings together. Instead, it is Matt, 17 and brilliant, who reluctantly and guiltily agrees to finish high school and go on to college, all the while sharing in the care of Kate and her baby sister, the hilarious, scene-stealing Bo. The violent, secretive history of the neighboring Pye family intrudes into the Morrisons' fragile system, detonating Matt's plans, and it is ultimately Kate who escapes into an academic career of challenge and respectability. Elegant, beautifully paced, and deeply resonant of the fears of children too young to have a vocabulary to express such feelings, this is a terrific debut. Nine countries were wise enough to buy the rights. Highly recommended for all public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 11/1/01.] Beth E. Andersen, Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., MI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Kate Morrison

Matt Morrison
Kate's older brother.

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