On Moonberry Lake

Revell. Sept. 2023. 336p. ISBN 9780800744977. pap. $17.99. CF
DEBUTCora’s mother always had a knack for knowing when someone was going to die, but she doesn’t give Cora any heads-up on before she kicks the bucket herself. Instead, she leaves a cryptic note, along with the keys to a rundown lodge in Moonberry Lake, MN, that Cora’s estranged grandparents used to run. The lodge’s failing plumbing and electricity, eccentric and angry neighbors, and too many rodents for comfort are overwhelming enough, but Cora also feels like she can’t grow roots there until she finds out why she was ripped away from Moonberry and her grandparents as a child. It is a struggle to see the locals as friendly and welcoming rather than unusual; after all, Cora’s closest neighbor spends most of her time talking to the residents of the local cemetery and caring for the headstones.
VERDICT Varni, host of the Moments from Moonberry Lake podcast, delivers a solid debut focusing on the stories of ordinary Midwesterners. The faith content is vague enough that general-fiction readers of Fannie Flagg, J. Ryan Stradal, and Viola Shipman will appreciate the small-town flavor and humorous anecdotes.
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