North

Brad Kessler. Overlook, $26 (288p) ISBN 978-1-4197-5042-7
Kessler’s accomplished third novel (after the memoir Goat Song) traces the lives of three people who converge during a Vermont blizzard. Blue Mountain Monastery monk Christopher Gathreaux prays an unseasonable May snowstorm won’t destroy his apple tree orchard. Meanwhile, Somalian refugee Sahro Abdi Muse makes her way from New York City to Canada after failing to gain asylum. Teddy Fletcher, a veteran of the War in Afghanistan and an amputee, rescues Sahro from the snowy roadside and delivers her to the monastery, where her arrival is met with mixed responses. As Brother Christopher attempts to acquaint his community with Sahro, he questions the relevancy of the monastery that’s given him spiritual sanctuary for years. Teddy aches for atonement and a release from his wartime PTSD, while Sahro, whose searing African history and long journey to the U.S. is revealed in Kessler’s confidently detailed, eloquent prose, finds the monastic shelter healing, though not a sanctuary from hostile attitudes toward immigrants. Kessler vividly renders the northern New England setting, a fitting backdrop to this emotive rendering of Sahro’s experience coupled with two characters at odds with their pasts. The characters’ moving stories coalesce into yet another winning effort from a consistently impressive writer. Agent: Betsy Lerner, DCL Agency. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 08/12/2021
Release date: 10/01/2021
Genre: Fiction
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