Sunday, January 17, 2016

The High Divide by Lin Enger

The High Divide by Lin Enger

Ulysses Pope has a secret past that is haunting him.  He is a veteran from the Civil War living in a small home with his wife and two children in a Northern Minnesotan town called Sloan's Crossing in 1886. Ulysses is restless and after a argument with his wife, Greta he leaves and doesn't return home.  He is headed West to atone for his sins and make peace with his soul.  He travels through North Dakota to meet up with an old friend and then he plans to go to Montana, to the Northern Cheyenne reservation to meet up with a man from his past called, Magpie.

His boys, Eli and Danny take off after their father, to bring him home. They are desperate to find him and find out why he hasn't returned They wonder if their is another woman and when they intercept a letter, they hop the train and head West to follow Ulysses's trail.

Gretta Pope is hopeless without her boys and wondering what has happened in her marriage to cause Ulysses to leave and not return. She heads to St. Paul, where they first met, to find him.  There she encounters his sister and learns the truth of Ulysses service in the army and she wonders what other lies he has told her.  She sets out on a journey West to find her boys.

The High Divide is historical fiction at its finest.  The High Divide combines historical events with the drama of the old west, the love of family and the pivotal decisions we must face.  The story of the Pope family is layered, with the chapters rotating in voice and setting.  The High Divide is compelling and captivating.  The three distinct voices give you a story that propels you to turn each page with anticipation.

Lin Enger is an awesome storyteller and good writing runs in the family as his brother (Leif Enger) has some really awesome books too.  I learned so much about the history and geography of the West and about the Smithsonian and the demise of the buffalo.  The High Divide is an action packed, mystery of the west, a re-imagining of Homer's Odyssey, and a story of love and forgiveness.  The writing is poetic and evocative and Enger handles the loss of the American Indian land and their subsequent decimation with a caring consciousness.  

The High Divide is a rich portrayal of the American West and the impact of westward expansion on the American Indian.

I have a cool unexpected connection to The High Divide by Lin Enger.  Coming up this July in 2016, I am chaperoning a trip to Montana to do service work on the Northern Cheyenne reservation.  I had no idea when I started reading this book that I would going to some of the places in it and now I feel excitement and a desire to visit the reservation and other places, like Miles City, Little Big Horn, the Badlands and more.  I love it when what you read connects to your life.  I am recommending this book to everyone who is traveling with me.  You should read it too.