When I heard that Sarah Stonich was writing a trilogy to complete the story she began in Vacationland, my heart skipped, because I wasn’t ready to leave Hatchet Inlet. Like every good vacation, you just don’t want it to end.
Laurentian Divide is the second book in the planned trilogy. It’s set for release in September 2018 from the University of Minnesota Press. Laurentian Divide takes up where Vacationland left off. It’s the story of a community burdened by grief but bound by shared values; lives and loves lost and found.
It’s spring in Hatchet Inlet, and after eight months of snow, ice, and bitter cold, the community is ready to celebrate. Widower Alpo Lahti is set to marry his spritely bride Sissy Pavlova, but the celebration is overcast by the unaccounted for Rauri Paar, a hermit who owns the last private track of land in The Reserve, and whose annual trek into town for supplies marks the season opener. With Rauri’s absence, there is speculation – did he take off and abandon his land? Unlikely, since he would forfeit it to The Reserve if he is away from it for more than three months. Is he injured or worse?
Meg reappears in the second volume, still painting, and separated. Alpo’s son Pete is divorced and in recovery, and flirts with the idea of a reunion with Meg, but when Alpo comes clean about his involvement in the end of Pete’s marriage, Pete’s grip on sobriety starts to slide. Pete wrestles with demons from the distant, but not nearly far enough away, past. Like a seasoned log, Stonich knows just where to strike to split your heart in two.
As always, Stonich’s descriptions of the landscape are richly drawn and imbued with the scents, sounds, and sights of the northern Minnesota landscape. She is at the height of her powers in describing a rent in the Divide where Alpo escapes to fish one last time before his wedding: “The cavern opens to a dank bowl of low wetland anchored with hooked cedars. One end of the pool spills down into it, a sheet of water the width of a car. It foams upon impact but settles smooth a few yards into its course. Where the stream meets a boulder, it splits neatly in two to flow in opposite directions.”
Listen to my interview with author Sarah Stonich here: https://soundcloud.com/wtip-community-radio/superior-reads-august-23-stonichhttps://soundcloud.com/wtip-community-radio/superior-reads-august-23-stonich