The Spawning Grounds has been on my TBR list since meeting Gail Anderson-Dargatz in Grimsby last October. I am not sure why I waited so long to read it and will always regret that I did not purchase a copy and have it signed that night (sadly, sometimes I need to limit my book purchases)! I do have signed copies of A Recipe for Bees, The Cure for Death is Lightning and Turtle Valley on my bookshelf.
If you are looking for a thought-provoking story blending family challenges, nature, mysticism, history and legend this is the book for you! The reader learns about the lives and habits of salmon as Hannah works to save the fish from a dying river. The salmon and the river have been a part of the genealogy and history of those who live on both sides. Hannah and her brother have been supported by their crusty grandfather, a landowner and cattle farmer, since their mother’s suicide and subsequent abandonment by their father who could not handle the grief of losing his wife. As Hannah saves salmon while her friend who lives on the reservation on the other side leads a protest against further development which has been harming the river.
Her brother, Brandon, gets swept away in the river as he saves his grandfather from drowning. After Brandon’s rescue it is clear that he is not himself as he experiences visions, draws pictures and is seen walking naked outside – similar symptoms that his mother had exhibited prior to her suicide. The grandfather ends up in hospital, dad comes home and Hannah learns more of their family history and the story of a young boy, whose bones had been discovered, as she struggles to save her brother. All the characters are impacted by a storm of symptoms, stories and history which escalates along with the weather.
The story is mystical, meandering like the river and leaves the reader pondering the impact of development, the importance of nature and how Canada lives with indigenous people. It is a terrific read which I would recommend!
If you are looking to know more about Gail Anderson-Dargatz, check out Novel Questions or the links above.