Under Nushagak Bluff

Boreal: Red Hen. Nov. 2019. 232p. ISBN 9781597098090. pap. $17.95. F
DEBUT Heavener offers up a tale of Yup’ik women living in mid-20th-century Alaska who face a myriad of challenges including interpersonal relationships, a changing economy, and the day-to-day needs of food and shelter in the harsh Arctic climate. The main character is Anne Girl, who falls in love with an outsider, John Nelson. They start a life together in the Alaskan village of Nushagak, where Anne Girl continues traditional fishing and John flies his own airplane to deliver goods and people to other villages. As the years pass, the emotional distance between Anne Girl and John grows, with Anne living alone while John raises their daughter, Ellen. The local cannery brings economic and social change to the village, and many of the traditional ways are forgotten. Ellen remembers the old ways but is caught up in the worldly life of the cannery workers and eventually has a daughter of her own, whom she will teach the traditions and stories of the Native peoples.
VERDICT The story will appeal to readers who enjoy regional novels and tales of strong women.

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