Wednesday, December 20, 2023

True North

True North by Andrew J. Graff
1/16/24; 304 pages

True North by Andrew J. Graff is a very highly recommended intelligent domestic drama following challenges in a marriage and a community.

It is 1993 and Sam and Swami Brecht, along with their three children, arrive in Thunderwater, Wisconsin, to begin running Woodchuck Rafting Company. They met as whitewater rafting guides when in college, and Sam hopes this will be a fresh start for their troubled marriage. Their arrival starts with an accident that disables their twenty-six-foot Winnebago camper, requiring it to be towed to the campground where they are staying, which immediately threatens them financially. He knows funding is going to be cut and his teaching job is likely over. He has plans to stay in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. Swami thinks this will just be for the summer. 

When the two see the rundown Woodchuck Rafting, sold to them by Sam’s uncle Chip, it becomes clear that making this a profitable business and bringing new life to their marriage is going to be an uphill struggle. Additional complications include the experienced but eccentric guides, a new, flashy rival rafting company, a mining company wanting to buy up the land, and one of the most rainy summers on record.

The quality of the writing is exceptional in True North. It is the story of a troubled marriage during a stressful summer, but it is much more than that and things are not as cut and dried as they seem. Emotions will run high as you read, as high as the rising water. This is a novel about family, whitewater rafting, and a love of nature versus the money a mining company could provide. This summer challenges all of the characters in ways that will require a reckoning for them even as the community is facing evaluating their own choices.

The characters are all fully-realized, unique individuals. Sam and Swami have depth and complicated thoughts and emotions that are buried under the surface. Every character in this novel is memorable.

True North is a literary character-driven domestic drama that will grab your attention and hold it throughout. The multiple struggles going on that multiple characters are facing and the imploding of Sam and Swami's marriage are equally compelling in this heartfelt novel. Adding to the drama are the adventures experienced in the narrative.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Ecco via NetGalley.

No comments: