Prudence

David Treuer. Riverhead, $27.95 (272p) ISBN 978-1-59463-308-9
After 2012’s much-lauded examination of Native American life on the reservation (Rez Life), Ojibwe writer Treuer turns once again to fiction in his achingly moving fourth novel. Here, he uses flashbacks and myriad points of view to relay both the lead-up to and the aftermath of a shocking event that occurs one muggy summer night in 1942. In the search to hunt down an escaped German prisoner from a WWII POW camp, a nine-year-old Indian girl is mistakenly shot and killed in the woods abutting the Pines, the rural Minnesota summer estate belonging to the Washburns. Though her older sister Prudence emerges unscathed, the accident alters the fates of everyone involved, including vulnerable Frankie Washburn, who pulled the trigger; Billy, the Indian boy who’s secretly captured Frankie’s heart and who takes the blame for the shooting; Felix, the stoic Indian widower who works on the Washburns’ property and takes Prudence in after her sister’s burial; and mouthy Prudence, who drinks and fornicates her way through the pain. Treuer adds depth to each of the characters’ stories by revealing tidbits of backstory, but it’s the saga of Frankie and Billy’s thwarted love and the consequences of their actions that feels the most devastating and resonant, haunting both men as they’re shipped off to war. Perhaps most fitting is the book’s title—which speaks volumes about each character’s integrity, culpability, and resilience in the face of a collective tragedy. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/15/2014
Release date: 02/05/2015
Genre: Fiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-4815-0419-5
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MP3 CD - 978-1-4815-0418-8
Hardcover - 402 pages - 978-1-4104-8121-4
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-1-59463-407-9
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