cover image Harvest Moon

Harvest Moon

Jenny Knipfer. Jenny Knipfer, $2.99 e-book (294p) ASIN B08H41S8HB

Knipfer concludes her By the Light of the Moon series (after Silver Moon) with a stirring if gloomy soap opera following an unfortunate Ojibwe woman in mid-19th-century Ontario, and the various men in her life. At 17, Maang-ikwezens has three suitors: a Catholic novitiate who converts her to Christianity then considers breaking his vows to be with her; the chief’s son, her arranged marriage betrothed; and Edmund Lorrie, an iterant carpenter. In a series of haphazard flashbacks, Maang-ikwezens recalls her youth attending the Jesuit Mission School run by a sadistic priest who beat the children for using their native language, her widowed mother’s marriage to a white man, and her lessons in the tribe’s healing arts. After Maang-ikwezens is raped by Edmund (he took “what I did not give”) and becomes pregnant, she agrees to relinquish her son, Niin-mawin, to her aunt to raise. Knipfer somberly chronicles the tragic consequences of white encroachment upon Ojibwe lands and campaigns to forcibly assimilate Native people. The shuffled, flashback-laden timeline is hard to follow, though, and the author’s choice to begin each gut-wrenching chapter with shopworn inspirational quotes feels pretentious and more than a bit disconnected from the material, but Maang-ikwezens’s fortitude is made undeniable by Knipfer’s well-rounded portrait. There’s not a lot of nuance here, but it’s engrossing nonetheless. (Self-published)