Thursday, August 19, 2021

Tin Camp Road

Tin Camp Road by Ellen Airgood
8/3/21; 304 pages
Riverhead Books/Penguin Random House

Tin Camp Road by Ellen Airgood is a very highly recommended literary domestic drama. This excellent, engaging, and genuine novel will hold your attention and heart from start to finish.

Laurel Hill and her intelligent, exuberant ten-year old daughter Skye have always been a team and managed to have a rich life even while living in poverty. The Hills have lived in the small town of Gallion on Lake Superior for four generations, so Laurel is determined to raise her daughter there while working several odd jobs. Her wandering mother lost the family home so Laurel and Skye are now living in a dilapidated rental house where the water and heat are frequently off and not fixed by their landlord. After losing their babysitter, Laurel now needs to leave Skye alone while she works. When their landlord tells them they have to be out in December because he wants to fix the house up as a short term rental for tourists, Laurel tries to find another option but can't. She ends up moving them out to the woods into an old trailer in the woods and Skye has to switch to a new school district.

Laurel fiercely loves Skye. She keeps an optimistic attitude and approach to parenting her daughter even while she realizes all the things she can't do. Her life is devoted to taking care of her daughter and she is determined to do it all herself. While I understand her tenacity and reticence, it is heartbreaking when Laurel doesn't ask for help from the people around her - people who care and would help. Heartbreaking events that follow their move out to the trailer result in some profound character growth and development. Laurel faces some facts, makes some hard choices, and learns a few important lessons along the way. Both Laurel and Skye are wonderful characters, as is the whole cast of supporting characters, the town of Gallion, and the area itself.

Tin Camp Road is a beautifully written and a realistic, genuine novel that will resonate with readers who appreciate literary fiction. Once I started reading this novel I was immersed in the plot and lost all track of time. The plot moves forward at an even pace until a shocking event that changes Laurel's outlook at life and makes her reexamine everything she believed was the best course of action. This is a realistic novel and the people, struggles, and weather are all described and depicted exactly as would be expected. The contrast between wealthy residents and their cluelessness of the poverty Laurel is experiencing is authentic. Laurel's determination to work any job and not feel sorry for herself is truly an admirable trait, which makes her growth in understanding that asking for help when you truly need it is not giving up an even stronger event. This would be an excellent choice for a book club.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Penguin Random House.

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