The Turtle Catcher

Nicole Lea Helget, Author . Houghton Mifflin Harcourt $24 (288p) ISBN 978-0-618-75312-3

A rural Minnesota town struggling through change before, during and after WWI forms the background for this emotional tale of star-crossed love, vengeance and regret. Liesel, the only girl in a family of men, lives an isolated life on a farm due to her secret identity as a hermaphrodite. Her loneliness is lessened by her friendship with Lester, her mentally challenged neighbor, but when Lester discovers Liesel’s secret, Liesel incites her brothers to exact a vicious revenge on him. As the novel skips back and forth through time in elliptical vignettes, Helget illustrates how tensions between the town’s German residents, including Liesel, and their more assimilated neighbors eventually boil over into anger and violence as sides are chosen and families are pulled apart. Helget establishes the setting beautifully, pulling the reader immediately into the social milieu of the small town, and even if her prose can veer into preciousness, the novel is, on balance, melancholy but enjoyable. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 10/27/2008
Release date: 02/01/2009
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-547-24800-4
Open Ebook - 304 pages - 978-0-547-48845-5
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