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Montana 1948

3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  7,405 Ratings  ·  1,025 Reviews
The events of that small-town summer forever alter David Hayden's view of his family: his self-effacing father, a sheriff who never wears his badge; his clear sighted mother; his uncle, a charming war hero and respected doctor; and the Hayden's lively, statuesque Sioux housekeeper, Marie Little Soldier, whose revelations are at the heart of the story. It is a tale of love ...more
Paperback, 182 pages
Published April 1st 1995 by Washington Square Press (first published 1993)
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Richard Derus
Oct 08, 2011 Richard Derus rated it it was amazing

Milkweed Editions

Rating: 5* of five Another one I'd give six stars to if I could.

The Publisher Says: The events of that small-town summer forever alter David Hayden's view of his family: his self-effacing father, a sheriff who never wears his badge; his clear sighted mother; his uncle, a charming war hero and respected doctor; and the Hayden's lively, statuesque Sioux housekeeper, Marie Little Soldier, whose revelations are at the heart of the story. It is a tale of love and courage, of power ab
May 10, 2013 Michael rated it really liked it
Recommended to Michael by: Richard
This 1993 novella wonderfully captures a great sense of place of growing up in a small prairie town in Montana and the loss of innocence by a boy experiencing the events and consequences of a case of abuse within his own family.

From a point four decades later, David begins his account with this powerful foreshadowing: “From the summer of my twelfth year I carry a series of images more vivid and lasting than any others of my boyhood and indelible beyond all attempts the years make to erase or fad
Aug 10, 2013 Algernon rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014

I find history endlessly amusing, knowing, as I do, that the record of any human community might omit stories of sexual abuse, murder, suicide ... Who knows – perhaps the region’s most dramatic, most sensational stories were not played out in the public view but were confined to small, private places. A doctor’s office, say. A white frame house on a quiet street.

David Hayden looks back from a middle age perspective at the events of the summer of his 12th year (“a series of images more vivid an
Sep 11, 2011 TK421 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary
I started this book almost eight months ago; I also left this book mid-chapter almost eight months ago. I’m not really sure as to why I stopped reading this novel. Perhaps I saw where the story was going and could not get myself to go there with it; perhaps I just saw some shiny object and raced after it. Both scenarios are very plausible. Anyways, I decided to pick the book back up today and finished the last seventy or so pages that I previously abandoned. And let me say that I am so lucky to ...more
John Winston
Aug 14, 2015 John Winston rated it liked it
This is a solid story with solid writing, tension, suspense, drama, characterization, and good dialogue and descriptions. Then why 3 stars which I rarely give? Well, The author went for a choice here in point of view that compromised the story. I’m sure the goal may have been to create suspense, but for me it just created a muted story where I found myself chomping at the bit wanting to know more about what was going on in the story. I wanted to see the conflict in the room between the Native Am ...more
Nov 22, 2013 Zoeytron rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Montana 1948 by Larry Watson. This is how it should be done. Clean simple writing and a good story well-told. There is no reason to pump up the volume simply for the sake of marketing a thicker book.

What it means to be a peace officer in Montana is 'knowing when to look and when to look away'. In a time tainted by underlying and sometimes overt racism, this tale is of the struggle between the ties that bind a family together and the moral code that begs for justice to be served.

Excellent work.
Jacob Appel
Aug 10, 2016 Jacob Appel rated it it was amazing
Montana 1948 is a delightful yet unsettling gem, more a novella than a novel, that grapples with family relationships, the mistreatment of Native Americans, and sexual abuse, but is primarily an insightful coming-of-age story. As works of literary fiction go, Watson's narrative is as technically precise as a Mozart symphony: the voice is pitch-perfect, the pacing masterful, the characters drawn to perfection. Its easy to anticipate the major plot developments, particularly the ending, but this d ...more
May 11, 2011 Vivian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wish I hadn't taken so long in starting this book which has been malingering on my TBR list for awhile upon a family recommendation. Riveting story, austere prose, and bald-faced observances all make the revelation of hypocrisy, prejudice, and complicity by inaction horrifyingly main street.
Sep 20, 2013 Jill rated it it was amazing
Coming-of-age books have long captured the interest of readers, from contemporary classics like Catcher in the Rye and To Kill a Mockingbird to Louise Erdrich’s excellent novel The Round House. In the very best of these stories, a young boy or girl is forced to witness the ugliness of society and then must move forward – suddenly older, wiser and sobered.

And so it is here with Montana 1948, an absolutely breathtaking and spare novel, with images so searing that the line between reality and ficti
Jan 28, 2008 David rated it it was amazing
This was a re-read of another title that I would call a perfect little book. Over the years I have recommended Montana, 1948 so many times to readers that I felt the need to go back and give it another read, just to make sure I still knew what I was talking about. I do. The novella is that perfect example of a suspenseful literary title, and the perfect prescription for literary readers grown bored with navel-gazing, and crime readers grown weary of the formulaic nature that even the best myster ...more
Nov 25, 2007 Amanda rated it it was amazing
I think the whole "coming of age" novel has been done to death, and so often is done badly. This slim book (more of a novella than a novel) is the exception to my rule. The story of a boy who discovers that his family is not exactly what he thought they were rings so true to me. The 'voice' is just right for a boy on the fine line between childhood and adolescence who is starting to search for the true meaning behind the things adults tell him - and the things they choose not to tell him. He sne ...more
Aug 29, 2014 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Geez. This book really got to me. I have been contemplative all the day long. Thinking of family and relationships. The way some families are enmeshed in unhealthy ways. The dynamics of power. Small towns. Racism.

I read this novella in pretty much one sitting. The sense of urgency I felt to finish it made me uncommonly tense. So what happened in Montana in 1948? Before or after?

Aug 06, 2013 Mmars rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In my little life full of coincidences, I would never have believed it if someone told me I would unintentionally read two books in one month with plots based upon the rape of Native American women by white men and both set in the northern plains. (Not because I don't believe it, but because it's not exactly a common literary fiction topic.) "Round House" by Louise Erdrich was the first and now, this. Did Louise Erdrich use Montana 1948 (published 20 years earlier) as a springboard for the RH? W ...more
Feb 02, 2015 Jonathan rated it it was amazing
Montana 1948 is a beautiful lyrical little novel of around 160 pages. Set in Bentrock, Montana, in 1948, it is a powerful exploration of conflict, relationships and power dynamics in the world around us from the perspective of one boy growing up through a scandalous time period.

I had never read Montana 1948 before the start of last week when I was required to read it in order to teach it. Having done so I was fascinated by such a poetic, provocative and beautiful little novel. It's a subtle nov
Nov 01, 2013 Cher rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-misc
3.5 stars - It was really good.

With anticipation for my upcoming trip to Montana and Yellowstone, I picked this up, hoping for an atmospheric read. It turns out that the story is set in the NE corner of Montana so I found myself in flat lands vs the mountainous backdrop I was seeking, but was rewarded with a great coming of age story nonetheless. A compact book at under 200 pages, but the author tells a compelling story that ultimately feels far more complete and satisfying than I had expected
Court Merrigan
There's not much to fault, technically speaking, in this book; it's solid, the descriptions are good, the plot reasonable. It's just so ... earnest. The kind of book your writing instructor is going to assign as following all the rules.

There's not a drop of suspense, and the very bad things that at least one character does are revealed so primly (the narrative reason being the MC is a 12-year old boy) that they don't have much impact. The victims - Indians, as it happens - have no voice at all.
Feb 25, 2011 Rita rated it it was amazing
Shelves: liked
This was the first book that our Mothers of 10th Graders book club is reading. We are reading the same books that our kids are assigned at school and then we get together to discuss the books and drink wine while we do it.

I found it curious that we'd start with this book and not Maus, which the kids just finished and looked really discussion worthy.

But, Montana 1948 it was and so I read.

It's hard for me to review the book without keeping in the back of my mind that 16 year-olds will start readi
So clearly, it is an award winning novel and I shouldn't be surprised to give it 5 stars. I also read American Boy a few years back and loved that, so definitely I am a Larry Watson fan. However, for some reason I had it in my head that this was a long cowboy western (kind of like McMurtry's Lonesome Dove) and so had kind of been avoiding it. It's not like that. This is a really great book. And it's also really short. So, I was wrong on a couple of counts.

The setting and rough plot (racist relat
Feb 20, 2008 Alice rated it liked it
I liked this, but didn't love it. Montana, 1948 is well-written, simple and direct. It seems more like a short story than a novel. If you're a fast reader, it'll be over before you know it. My favorite parts were the visual descriptions of a small Montana town sixty years ago. I've driven through Montana a few times and always been amazed by the combination of beauty and emptiness.

I wasn't as crazy about the plot. Montana is both a crime drama and an examination of the young protagonist's compl
Sep 20, 2013 Carol rated it really liked it
Shelves: e-audible
Another great American Western novel - I'm on a hot streak!
Cheryl S.
Feb 22, 2008 Cheryl S. rated it really liked it
I've read this book before, and was once again struck by the chilling realization much of our history is not contained in the approved texts but held behind closed doors and spoken of only in whispers. It's difficult to learn from the past when the truth is shrouded by a comforting lie.
CJ Baroni
Oct 19, 2015 CJ Baroni rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book, Montana 1948, was a thriller and thought-provoking book. The author, Larry Watson, was born in 1947 and grew up in Bismarck, North Dakota. North Dakota borders Montana so Watson has personal experience during this time. Montana 1948 is quite a powerful book, and the book makes you set it down, and take a moment to think about it and what it means. While reading this novel, I always had this question in my head, “What will happen next?” I thought I predicted the end of the book, but th ...more
Feb 21, 2015 Jeremy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Paint. Fresh paint. That's how you find life and civilization. Women come and they want fresh paint."

This is a tight-packed novella, on my son's year 10 English syllabus, and with plenty of fodder for high school English teachers to use as socially-prescriptive literature. And while my son might weary of this approach to English, I have the freedom to pursue other works at leisure ... and have long since accustomed myself to the prevailing breeze... You learn to lean in to it.

But it's also a ve
This book reminded me of Richard Ford's "Canada" - set in the same part of the world, in the wide open spaces of Montana out there on the Great Plains, east of the Rocky Mountains and just down the road from Canada.

David Hayden is looking back at the life-changing summer of 1948, when he was but a boy of 12 and his family was caught up in an unspeakable sequence of events far beyond the control of any adult, let alone a child. Ford trod similar ground, but Watson's novel is simpler, shorter and
Nikita Perevalov
Oct 18, 2015 Nikita Perevalov rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Montana 1948 is a novel by Larry Watson, an American author of novels, poetry and short stories. I was reading this book in my English class. Reading in my free time and having discussions about the book in class has given me a better understanding of what events are unfolding. Montana 1948 is not a challenging read, one still will find some unfamiliar vocabulary. The book is very intriguing and has plot twists which keep the reader stay engaged. The town in which the Hayden family lives ( t ...more
Aug 07, 2016 Kathy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written, very thoughtful. A book I will not soon forget. I loved it.
Jun 12, 2013 Dan rated it it was amazing

I couldn't put this down, I read most of it in a single sitting.
Oct 17, 2015 Jack rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mr. Wennik's 9th Grade English class recently read the Western fiction novella Montana 1948 by Larry Watson, an American author from North Dakota. The story revolves around David Hayden, a twelve year old boy, and his family as they are thrust into a dramatic plight forcing them to choose between either loyalty or justice. The book takes place in the summer of 1948 in a small rural town known as Bentrock, Montana. Watson does a great job of fully immersing the reader in the storyline, as the mai ...more
Scott Thompson
Apr 05, 2017 Scott Thompson rated it really liked it
This book started off slow and comfortable. It let you "feel" the world the writer created. Then it grew more and more powerful, but it did so without trying too hard. This is difficult to explain, but it shows the talent of the author who knows how to show more by saying less.
Robert Palmer
Mar 22, 2017 Robert Palmer rated it really liked it
This is a small book,more like a novella,but it packs a mighty wallop.the story focuses on the life of a 12 year old boy,David Hayden in Montana in 1948(like you didn't see that one coming)and how a family is torn apart between loyalty and justice.Davids father,Wesley is the towns sheriff, and when Davids Mother Gail,learns that her husbands brother,Frank,the local Doctor,has been using his medical status for molesting Indian women from the nearby Reservation.Davids father,as the Sheriff,begins ...more
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Indian surnames? 1 3 May 25, 2016 07:30PM  
Am I the only one? 1 8 May 25, 2016 07:09PM  
Play Book Tag: Montana 1948 by Larry Watson - 4 stars 3 12 May 15, 2016 08:47PM  
Clean, Fiction, (Maybe) Short Book About a Hard Decision? 1 4 Nov 23, 2015 08:37AM  
ENG 580 Spring 2014: Montana 1948 1 8 Feb 16, 2014 08:29AM  
Ironi in this book 1 14 Sep 10, 2013 10:52AM  
The Hazards of a First Person Retrospective POV 1 10 Feb 11, 2013 04:52AM  
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Larry Watson was born in 1947 in Rugby, North Dakota. He grew up in Bismarck, North Dakota, and was educated in its public schools. Larry married his high school sweetheart, Susan Gibbons, in 1967. He received his BA and MA from the University of North Dakota, his Ph.D. from the creative writing program at the University of Utah, and an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Ripon College. Watson ...more
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