The Girl in Duluth
A 2022 release
Here is a thoughtful, carefully structured, moving story of a girl from Northern Minnesota who encounters life in most of its variables, from the very low to some soaring highs. June lives in a tiny shrinking community near the Canadian border. She’s eighteen in a cold January, nearing the end of her high school years with no concrete plans for the future. She works part time for a local newspaper editor, lives in a miserable small apartment with her mother and worries a lot about the rest of her family, and her friends.
Tonya, June’s mother, is not married and her relationships with a number of people are sketchy and transitory at best. She has a tendency to disappear for days at a time and June is almost never informed as to her mother’s whereabouts or schedule. Fortunately for June, she has three anchors; her high school friend, Zee, an older friend of her mother, Frank, and her uncle Aaron. But Aaron lives in Minneapolis, a very long way south.
This well-written novel takes June and those around her through a number of small and large crises, craftily described in the language and character of this bright, aware teen-ager who is under pressure from many sides to descend into chaos. That she is able to resist forms the core of the narrative, even when her powerful curiosity to learn more about her mother’s life threatens to upend her for good.
Her search for a stable life is well-thought out and she develops in a logical and creative manner, even through her outrageous encounter with a young prostitute in Duluth.
The narrative evokes the landscape and the weather in appropriate ways and the emotional upheavals are nicely fashioned. The novel is powerful, moving and subtly raises a number of important questions. A thoroughly engaging story, from an observant, creative author.