I read this book as part of the Modern Mrs. Darcy book club. I really appreciate this book club because they introduce books that I would have never sought out on my own. This book was no different. They say if you enjoyed Where The Crawdads Sing then you would enjoy this book, but I haven’t read that book either. Regardless, I give this book 4 stars.
Odie and Albert’s parents were dead, and since the orphanage was too full, they found themselves at a school in Minnesota whose primary purpose was to provide education to Native American children. It takes place in the 1930s during the Great Depression. Odie has struggled at this school and had been on the receiving end of a lot of abuse.
One night, there is a murder at the school, which forces Odie, Albert, their friend Mose, and a little girl named Emmy to escape from the school in a kayak down the river, headed towards the Mississippi River and St. Louis to hopefully find an aunt that might take them in. Along the way, they meet several different characters that represented the reality for people in that era. It is almost set up like the Odyssey with a little bit of Huck Finn thrown in.
It took me a bit to really get into it. But once I was invested in the characters, I was hooked. It explored the questions of faith and trust, both in yourself and in others. Also, there is a bit of magic in the series that could be explained or not, but considering the narrator is actually a storyteller, known for his ability to tell a good story, there are things that may be exaggerated. However, if you read this book like a float down the river, it is worth it just for the ride.
There is profanity. The sexual content was implied (there is a brothel in the story, but since this is told from a young boy’s perspective and he is not allowed to be a part of that world, there is little described). There is also violent content, all still told from Odie’s perspective, so some of it isn’t quite as reliable. He tends to blame himself for things that he was responsible for, so it can be a little unsure.
The book is excellent, especially if you enjoy a good epic adventure. There were plot twists I didn’t expect because the misdirection is really well done. I wasn’t even thinking about the possibilities of those twists and turns until they were already there. Really good read!