Old Border Road

Susan Froderberg, Author
Susan Froderberg, Little, Brown, $23.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-316-09877-9
Reviewed on: 10/11/2010
Release date: 12/01/2010
Froderberg's shimmering debut set against the dusty, barren backdrop of the American southwest explores the joys and consequences of young love. Katherine, a new arrival to southern Arizona, is only 17 when she marries Son, the son of a local rancher. The couple settles in his parents' adobe home, and Katherine's new in-laws counsel her on life, "...like how to hide a stitch when taking a proper hem up, and the way you make a chili roast and a casserole and a lemon pie, stiff whites and all." An extended dry spell sets in motion a series of hardscrabble events that bring havoc to the newlyweds; Son's increased drinking, casual infidelities, and frequent departures leave Katherine doubting her decision. She soothes her regret with a budding affinity for horses, in time abandoning the marriage and terminating a pregnancy. Her dire situation comes full circle after Son is thrown by a horse and a drought-ending storm keeps them from getting him medical help, but affords Katherine a chance to revive her hobbled marriage. Froderberg's distinctive narrative about life in the desolate borderlands is simple yet gilded with grandly descriptive flourishes and lush colloquial language. (Dec.)
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