True North is comprised of a series of short stories from the points of view of various diverse characters, which come together to form this incredible story of one place and time. Eller has a gift for creating vibrant, fully fledged characters that will stick with you long after you’ve finished the book. Some of my favorites were Leah, a strong and unyielding young housewife; Andy Anderson, who refuses to take a stand on anything in order to be fair to everyone; and Dolores, a flamboyant widow at the end of her life, on a mission to get even with everyone who’s wronged her before she dies. All of these characters’ stories (and many more) are told against the backdrop of rural North Dakota in the 30s-60s. The setting almost becomes a character in its own right, as the land, wars and prevailing beliefs of the time force characters onto paths they might not otherwise choose. Eller’s writing is masterful: complex yet subtle, capable of being both hilarious and profoundly sad, with a way of effortlessly painting images of simple beauty. True North embodies the reason I read: to live many lives in many places and times.


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