Jerkwater

Jamie Zerndt. KDP, $6.99 e-book (244p) ASIN B07T1LMJB5
Jerkwater
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Zerndt’s resonant latest (after The Roadrunner Cafe) traces the lives of three downtrodden characters struggling with death and despair in Mercer, Wis. Shawna Reynolds, an Ojibwa orphan desperately missing her deceased mother, considers most white people “polluted” due to the history of their crimes committed against her family. Living next door is Kay, a 64-year-old widow numbing the recent death of her husband with alcohol and becoming increasingly worried about her Alzheimer’s-induced forgetfulness. Kay’s son, Douglas, who lives with her, endures sluggish business at the family’s auto body shop while trying to be a friend to Shawna and coming to terms with his father’s death. Zerndt shows a knack for strong characterization as this trio of downcast friends melds into a cohesive unit, collectively processing their sorrow, disenchantment, and struggles. A community battle over a torched town mascot and fishing rights swirls up unrest between Mercer’s white and Native American populations, with Shawna embroiled at the center. Zerndt’s prose and storytelling acumen are on impressive display as he weaves together the lives of his characters, whose dreams and desires vastly outweigh their meager grief-stricken lives and uncertain futures. Compact and tightly plotted, this outstanding work is packed with emotion and restlessness. (Self-published)
Reviewed on : 10/23/2020
Genre: Fiction
Jerkwater
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