Odie O’Banion and his older brother Albert were orphaned when his father died, their mother having passed years before. The two then had to call the Lincoln Indian Training School in Minnesota home, the only white boys in attendance and under the supervision of its cruel superintendent Thelma Brickman and her husband Clyde. After four years of hardship, circumstances had them take flight when he was only twelve and Albert sixteen, accompanied by Mose, a mute boy of Sioux origins and Emmy Frost, a little girl whose widowed mother was recently killed and leaving her to be taken in by the Brickmans. These four young children embark on a journey to a different life in the summer of 1932, along the riverbanks of the Gilead River during the harsh era following the Great Depression.
I became a fan of this author’s writing after discovering his Cork O’Connor series years ago. One of the things I love about his stories is the strong sense of time and place, connecting the reader in a way that immerses you into the lives, surroundings and circumstances of the characters. The adventures and hardships these four children encountered were a microcosm of the period where people were struggling to survive. It brought out the best and worst of humanity as seen through Odie’s eyes and heart. These were the days when there were few rules to protect children from the world let alone manipulative adults. Odie and Albert were on a course to find the one relative they had remaining, an aunt in St. Louis, and that trip from Minnesota would have been dangerous under normal situations but even more given the desperation of so many during that time.
This story grabbed me emotionally from the onset and never let go. There were times when I just wanted it to move on because I feared for the well being of these four but each situation mattered in Odie’s maturation and formation. There’s a bit of a paranormal element here, too, that provides answers where there sometimes aren’t any others. I’m not sure where I landed with that but it certainly was thought provoking and often spiritual. I’m very glad I chose to listen to the story as the narrator, Scott Brick, did a great job of storytelling, especially when you consider it’s in the voice of a twelve-year old being recalled by his eighty-year old self. There are some stunning twists near the end but it’s the entire journey that will captivate you and your imagination. I loved the story.
- Release Date: September 2, 2019
- Narrator: Scott Brick
- Audio Length: 14 hours, 19 minutes
- Publisher: Recorded Books
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(Thanks to Recorded Books for my complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.)