Meet Odie and Albert. Two brothers living at the Lincoln School in Minnesota in 1932. At the Lincoln School, hundreds of Native American children are separated from their families so they can be educated. Odie and Albert are not Native Americans, they are orphans the school took in and Odie in particular loves to explore and get into trouble which puts him into no so good graces with the school’s superintendent, Mrs. Brickman or “the Black Witch” as the kids call her.
Due to several horrible circumstances, Odie and Albert are forced to flee, taking their best friend Mose and a little girl named Emmy with them. Stealing a canoe, Odie, Albert, Mose, and Emmy set off down the Mississippi to find a place to call home. During the summer of 1932, Odie, Albert, Mose and Emmy will journey into the large world of the unknown. Along the way they will meet others who are also adrift, getting themselves into situations that both excite and terrify them. Where will they end up and will they be able to find a place in this world where they belong?
I had heard tons of hype about this book, but never really looked at what the book was about. When my book club selected the book, it was time to buckle down and read this 465 page book and let me tell you I am so glad that I did. And I am also glad that I did not read the synopsis and had no idea where this book was going to go – it was like I was on the same adventure with Odie and the others!!! William Kent Krueger is a fabulous story teller. He writes in such a way that you feel what the characters are feeling. You cheer for the good times and silently curse the horrible things that happen to them in their young lives. He writes in such a way that has you turning page after page and not wanting to stop! While this book stopped at 465 pages, let me tell you I wanted to read many, many more pages to learn more about these characters and what happened in their lives.
This book was one that will stick with me for a long time. It was full of so many lessons and nuggets of knowledge. It was filled with life’s dilemmas and morals to many questions presented in the course of the story. Most of all, this was a story that tugged at my heartstrings. While I usually sell the books I have read to make room for new ones in my collection, this is one that I will NOT be selling. This is a book that I will for sure read again (and probably again after that). This is a story that has spoken to me and will speak to each one of you every time you read it.