Book Review: From These Ashes

From These Ashes – Tamela J. Ritter

Recommended: This is hard. It’s not my normal genre so I’m not sure what to compare it to. Those who like Jackie Morse Kessler’s Horseman series, Barbara Kinsglover, or Margaret Atwood, I think.

I started this book slowly – a chapter a night, but then devoured it on a flight to Chicago. It has the one thing I like best – voice, or I suppose voices. Naomi and Tim, the siblings who are the focus of the book, each have their own voice and it’s wonderful. Naomi has the cadence of a storyteller, while Tim is more casual and present.

Naomi is in a cult recovery facility when we start and Tim has lost his memory and begun a journey to discover who he is. the story drifts from the letters of the past Naomi is writing for her therapist to the reality of Tim’s hard-scrabble life as a drifter.

The whole story is flavored by the realities of reservation life, alcoholic parents, child abuse, and overt racism. It’s a heartbreaking and beautiful story. It ends with hope, but not glib answers and a neat bow.

I might never have noticed this book without the the randomness of life throwing me in the path of the author and that would have been a crying shame. It’s well worth the read and I’m gob-smacked that it’s a debut novel.

Highly recommended. (I’ve already bought copies for 3 friends.)

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