Thoughts by Louise Erdrich, Harper 2021, 387 pages
Challenge: TOB 2022
Genre/Theme: Adult Literature
Type/Source: eBook / Library
What It’s About: This is the story of Tookie, a Chippewa woman in Minnesota who works in a bookstore. The book starts with how she came to commit a crime, be sentenced and serve time in prison. A former teacher sends her a dictionary and so begins a love of reading. This same teacher helps her get the job at the bookstore once she is released from prison. This is also the story of how one of the bookstore’s most loyal customers dies and begins to haunt Tookie when she is at work. The story is timely; we see the dates approach March 2020 — the start of the pandemic. And June, when George Floyd is murdered at the hands of the cops. And the subsequent protests.
Thoughts: As I attempt the above paragraph, I find my appreciation growing for how Erdrich accomplished all of the personal and broad storylines, as well as weaving in the love of reading. There is a grappling of balancing political issues and getting involved and this was successfully done (to me) — effectively paced with empathy, love, and respect; everything I love in my literature. I would even say she manages a balanced lightness with heavy topics and was able to bring some humor to the humanity.
I found that I could not read just any book. It had gotten so I could see through books—the little ruses, the hooks, the setup in the beginning, the looming weight of a tragic ending, the way at the last page the author could whisk out the carpet of sorrow and restore a favorite character. I needed the writing to have a certain mineral density. It had to feel naturally meant, but not cynically contrived.
Rating: She even included pie! Rounding up to 5 slices of pie. A book lover’s book: the author provides a list of all the books mentioned in the text.
I grew up in Rondo and that was a warm neighborhood, full of kindness, pie, elderly folks, kids, craziness, and sorrow. It was a place to belong. All my life I’ve missed it, but never understood until now.
PS I voted this for my TOB Zombie.