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Jewelweed

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  1,229 ratings  ·  244 reviews
With Jewelweed this beloved author returns to the same out-of-the-way community as Driftless and introduces a cast of characters who must overcome the burdens left by the past. After serving time for a dubious conviction, Blake Bookchester is paroled. As Blake attempts to adjust, he reconnects with Danielle Workhouse, a single mother whose son, Ivan, explores the woods wi ...more
Hardcover, 451 pages
Published May 14th 2013 by Milkweed Editions (first published January 1st 2013)
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Average rating 4.16  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,229 ratings  ·  244 reviews


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Bonnie
Jun 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I can't believe that picking up a book randomly from the library could turn out to be such treat. Jewelweed is an amazing story of ordinary people living ordinary lives,yet told with extraordinary insight. The setting is the Driftless Region of Wisconsin and introduces people who struggle to find a new sense of belonging. Blake Bookchester returns home after serving a prison sentence and seeks to pick up his old way of life. His father welcomes him home, but his former girlfriend will have nothi ...more
Sarah
Jan 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Oh my gosh, oh my gosh! I think this just went up on Edelweiss today, and I already got approved for my ARC. Totally excited because I loved, LOVED Driftless. Can't wait to finish the ones I'm working on right now so that I can sit down with this one.

Updated 1.18.13:
Much like 2008's Driftless, Jewelweed is a paean to rural Wisconsin. The reader revisits Words, WI more than ten years after Driftless concludes. It's mostly a new cast of characters, though Pastor Winnie is there, too, still struggl
...more
Larissa
Jan 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I got Jewelweed from ALA Midwinter and wasn’t sure what to expect since it is a very different style from what I usually read. The wondrously crafted writing drew me in immediately. David Rhodes is such a phenomenal writer that he creates scenes that could easily be boring and commonplace and turns them into revelatory and pensive reflections on life and society. The multitude of themes and interwoven character lines made Jewelweed a pleasure to read.

Jewelweed is a magical book, and there is so
...more
Jenny
Sep 25, 2013 rated it liked it
Jewelweed had a lot of potential to be compelling, such as delving deep into what the world would be like for Blake after living in confinement for ten years, but Rhodes just never seemed to dig deep enough. The Wild Boy could have been intriguing, but we didn’t get any hints along the way, so my interest in that mystery quickly waned.

The vocabulary in Jewelweed was very simple, as was the plot. There were small parts of the story that reached out toward the bizarre, while other parts, especiall
...more
John
Feb 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Just as good as Driftless. I loved it. So imaginative, such articulate characters, and a well-woven and thoughtful plot. Not to mention another lovely description of midwestern life. Bravo!
Carol
Aug 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Having just finished reading Driftless, also written by David Rhodes, I immediately started reading Jewelweed. I had read that it is not a sequel, but it does mention a few of the same characters, and the setting, rural Wisconsin, is the same. I had not been impressed with the role of the minister, Winnie, and was somewhat disappointed that she is one of the main characters in this book. However, I started to enjoy her personality a bit better. (I missed reading more about Violet and Olivia, tho ...more
Lee
Jan 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved this book! I rolled it around in my mind like I would a perfect piece of dark chocolate in my mouth—until about 3/4 into the story I hit a crack. Maybe it was me, or that day, but a chapter felt incongruent. The story came back with the same magic as before.

Rhodes described the experience of a newly released prisoner so deeply, I was captivated. An older man's list of what he'd miss when he's gone inspired me. There were numerous characters and although we came to know some o
...more
Dick Vander Woude
Mar 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The best novel I've read in recent years. Brilliantly conceived, charming charters, applied philosophy, and a deep understanding of life's lessons.
Glenda Christianson
Jul 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Genre: Literature
Cover Art: The cover art does not do justice to this novel.

Jewelweed is the first book by author David Rhodes that I have read. However, it is actually his second novel based in a small town in rural Wisconsin. The first book, entitled Driftless is set in the same community. Jewelweed is not a sequel and the reader does not necessarily need to read Driftless before Jewelweed. The reader should be warned: Before I had finished the third chapter of Jewelweed, I went out and got a
...more
Jeff Hanson
Apr 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
David Rhodes Jewelweed is a slow but fascinating read of everyday people living in the Driftless region of Wisconsin. The plot is not like any thing else I've really read. The cast of characters come from all walks of life--a wealthy construction family with a sickly son, a trucker with a refined palate and a son whose just been released from prison, a young single Mom struggling to make a life for herself and her son, a female reverend struggling with her faith and her down-to-earth husband tha ...more
Denisa Howe
Apr 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This emotion stitched writing lived in my heart throughout the whole book. It reminded me of a patchwork quilt. It was sewn together by friends, family and a few visitors with a certain pattern of which, it does not stick to. And yet they with love, compassion, humor and acceptance make it work anyway. This story is the lives of magnificent authentic characters that became real to me. I loved them, hated a few, smiled and desperately wanted to help many and long for their return. The quilt sewn ...more
Nancy
Apr 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
I'm a great fan of Wisconsinite David Rhodes' writing. My advice is to read "Driftless" before reading "Jewelweed," as the latter will be richer if you know the history of Jacob and Winifred Helm and the southwestern Wisconsin town of Words. New characters in this book include Blake Bookchester, who has served ten years in prison, his father Nate -- a long-distance truck driver, and Danielle, the prickly young single mother whom Blake still loves. Rhodes' writing reveals a deep faith in the ordi ...more
Laurie Smithwick
Jul 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Jewelweed is one of the happiest, most satisfying, soul-pleasing books I have ever read. Every single character is likable - even lovable. And yet every single character is complex and thought provoking as well; even some of the more minor characters. I just finished the book this morning, and I am so sad to be leaving all these lovely people behind, I'm tempted to read the book again right now.
Marvin
Jul 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: religion
Jewelweed is set in the same place (southwestern Wisconsin) and employs some of the same characters as appeared in Driftless, a book chosen several years ago as an All Iowa Reads selection, but it is not really a sequel. And, to me, it represents a significant maturation of the author. The characters, which were really interesting in Driftless, are more fully developed here and their stories are more intertwined, making it easier to stay engaged. And I was less concerned about potential stereoty ...more
Trisha
Dec 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is one of those books I want to turn right around and start reading all over again now that I’ve finished it. Set in the same fictional southwestern Wisconsin community as Rhodes’ earlier book (Driftless) this one has many of the same characters, and each chapter focuses on one of them and the way events are unfolding from that person’s point of view. So the book isn’t just one story. It’s many individual stories all happening at the same time in the same place and each character is importa ...more
Laura Weldon
Jul 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a marvelously written book. It's told from many viewpoints---a chronically ill child, a wary young mother, a minister, an ex-con, a long-distance trucker, and many more. Each character reveals him or herself in quietly brilliant observations. Here are a few examples.

Winnie, the minister. "Winnie cherished Jacob's need for passion from her, and sometimes imagined that his consciousness consisted primarily of an awareness of his own sexual instinct--his own gateway to rapture. Thankfully G
...more
Eric
May 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Jewelweed is a story about ordinary people living ordinary lives. But I developed deep feelings for all of the characters as if I knew them personally. The plot breaks down a couple of isolated times and if I could give Jewelweed 4.5 stars I would. But I rounded down.

A few thoughts that hit home were:

What good is freedom if you never do anything unusual or odd? That’s what freedom means – doing whatever you need to do so long as nobody else is hurt by it. That’s what you were talking about befor
...more
Martha
Apr 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I loved Driftless and Rock Island Line so much that I was apprehensive about whether or not Jewelweed would live up to its predecessors! I shouldn't have worried; David Rhodes is a master and in his hands, this story, which shares its setting, some characters and themes with Driftless, stands shoulder to shoulder with his other work but unique and complete in itself.

The inner lives of Rhodes' characters, their fears, dreams, hopes and motivations, are woven into a tapestry of community life. Rh
...more
West Hartford Public Library
Feb 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: martha
I loved Driftless and Rock Island Line so much that I was apprehensive about whether or not Jewelweed would live up to its predecessors! I shouldn't have worried; David Rhodes is a master and in his hands, this story, which shares its setting, some characters and themes with Driftless, stands shoulder to shoulder with his other work but unique and complete in itself.

The inner lives of Rhodes' characters, their fears, dreams, hopes and motivations, are woven into a tapestry of community life. Rho
...more
marcus miller
May 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Small towns are full of interesting characters and Rhodes does a wonderful job of capturing those idiosyncrasies, while tossing in a some mid-west flavored magical realism. (It's there, but within the realm or reality.) Along the way, Rhodes critiques the American prison system, particularly for profit prisons. As my wife is the pastor of a small church I always enjoy Rhodes descriptions of the dynamics of small-town or rural churches.
Jill Olswanger
Jul 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
David Rhodes just keeps getting better. His writing is exceptionally beautiful but never fussy or over-done. His characters and the world he has created draws you in and enfolds you. I broke out sobbing on 3 separate occasions while reading this fabulous book. What a treasure.
Lucia
Apr 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
Loved it. Beautiful, raw, thought-provoking. I'm making a point to read all of his other books now. A very satisfying read.
Mary Ahlgren
Apr 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Lyrical writing, absorbing characters (especially the kids) and a great story.
Lexie
Exquisite. If you love character-driven stories, David Rhodes' *Jewelweed,* and its predecessor, *Driftless,* are tailor-made. Each character is drawn with depth and compassion; every variation on the human condition is rendered. The first chapter is called "A Taste of Joy" ... and that's what this book is. The most ordinary of people, places, and moments are made luminous. I want to meet these people ... every one is shaded with reverent imagination and nuance. A trucker, widowed, mourns also t ...more
Veronica Cobley
Jan 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow! This took me a while to get through - but every page, every line is what reading is all about - adventure, love, profound feelings, exquisitely worded imagery and description - allowing us to capture different places, times and characters in our minds and having them live there forever. This will hopefully go down as a classic one day x
Catherine Stickann
I won this book on Goodreads First Reads giveaway and I thank Milkweed editions and the author for my copy.
David Rhodes has written an interesting book that I am sure I will ponder for many days. The title is a bit misleading to those picking a book to read. It is not a title that hints at what the book is about. I will not elaborate here as that would make this review a spoiler.
I have watched a video of the author speaking about this book. From that I know the main themes in the book were abou
...more
Megan
Aug 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
It's very rare that I purchase books I haven't read, even rarer that I purchase books I know almost nothing about (George MacDonald's Lilith, which I bought freshmen year of college, was my last such purchase.) But I bought Jewelweed fifteen minutes after hearing of the novel for the first time, at the recommendation of Eighth Day Books in Wichita, and the novel did not disappoint.

True, it has almost no plot, so it was difficult to get into at first. But then I switched from reading it a page o
...more
Josephine Briggs
May 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
NEIGHBORS AND FRIENDS, WELCOME BACK TO THE MIDWEST.

David Rhodes loves the Driftless Area of south west Wisconsin where he lives, he loves nature and planting, especially flowers. He portrays all of this yoy of life in his characters. The book begins about fifteen to twenty years after Driftless. Readers are taken into the lives of just plain, ordinary folks.

The small village of Words has other citizens. I am getting to enjoy meeting new characters. Sisters, Violet and Olivia, are involved in Pas
...more
Chris Deitz
Sep 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
David Rhodes is an exceptional writer. This selection is one of his best.
Jean
Aug 31, 2013 rated it liked it
I like the Midwest tone of the book-- the occasional rainstorms, the landscapes, the rural towns, the characters. Also with a touch of magic realism. This book is almost like several novels in one, in that the back stories of major characters are well fleshed out. All of the characters connect, but each has a story in themselves. Characters include three boys, all around age 12, their parents, an ex-prisoner on probation, a hermit, a Wild Boy, a giant snapping turtle, and a pet bat.

Rhodes is go
...more
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As a young man, David Rhodes worked in fields, hospitals, and factories across Iowa. After receiving an MFA in Writing from the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop in 1971, he published three acclaimed novels: The Last Fair Deal Going Down (1972), The Easter House (1974), and Rock Island Line (1975). In 1976, a motorcycle accident left him partially paralyzed. In 2008, Rhodes returned to the lite
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  Justin A. Reynolds burst onto the YA scene last year with his debut book Opposite of Always, a heartfelt novel about love and friendship...
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“Winnie would never be free of religious thinking, and she couldn't imagine ever wanting to be. She just needed a new schedule for her faith, one whose appointments with the divine were arranged not only through sermons, songs, and scripture, but rather on a walk-in basis with rocks, water, air, blood, space, and time.” 3 likes
“You show how much you love someone by being there for them when they need you, by knowing what they need and anticipating those needs.” 3 likes
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