Although 2021 has already dealt me some bad cards personally, and events unfolding in our nation's capitol are deeply unsettling, I'm pleased to report things have gotten off to a better start in the Barton reading room.
Stones From the River has been on my "to read" list for over twenty years. Ursula Hegi's 1994 novel is a complex, compelling, and masterfully rendered tale. The main character - Trudi Montag - earns her place alongside revered fictional protagonists like Scarlett O'Hara, Atticus Finch, or Holden Caufield thanks to Hegi's formidable storytelling. Trudi's journey from 1915-1952 stretches from the damage done to her German homeland via the disastrous Treaty of Versailles, through the cancerous rise and fall of the Third Reich. Hegi tells her universal story about the power of secrets and the insidious way people can be slowly poisoned by lies using the people of Trudi's small hometown as a microcosm of the world - the poisoned, the brave, and the many folks - like me and you - that lie between those opposing poles.
In 2015 - using my long-running Mt. Rushmore series - I enshrined four highly memorable but deeply flawed father figures from novels. After reading Stones From the River, I'm considering building a new monument to honor four father figures worthy of esteem. If I do construct a Mt. Rushmore like that, Trudi Montag's father Leo will be on it. Leo reminded me of my own Dad. I can think of no higher compliment to pay this talented author.