Monday, May 1, 2006

Just Read: "Montana, 1948" by Larry Watson

Montana, 1948 by Larry Watson, paperback edition, 0671507036

Read this for Jefferson County Reads. Good book but not great. I read White Crosses a few years ago with the same result, good, not great. The discussion group on May 2nd had at least one person who really liked the story.

Montana, 1948 is narrated by twelve year old David Hayden who tells the story of the death of family housekeeper Marie and the subsequent arrest of his Davids uncle Frank on rape charges. Davids family has a lot of authority in their small town of Bentrock. Davids grandfather is a wealthy rancher and held the job of sheriff for years until he resigned for Davids father Wesley to inherit the job. Uncle Frank is a prominent war hero and doctor. Wesleys arrest of his own brother creates a schism in the family and risks the entire familys reputation and status in town.

There are a lot of ways to examine the story and characters actions that I never clued into until the book discussion. The interaction between the sons and the domineering father, the clear racism of Frank and hidden racism of Wesley, motivations of Frank as sheriff versus son and brother.

I thought the book was a straightforward tale of the dangers of doing good versus the benefits of sitting tight. Not the first time Ive missed subtle signals and messages.

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