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4.17  ·  Rating details ·  1,021 Ratings  ·  215 Reviews
From a masterful storyteller, comes a Midwestern epic that illuminates the majestic in the commonplace.

When David Rhodes burst onto the American literary scene in the 1970s, he was hailed as “a brilliant visionary” (John Gardner), and compared to Sherwood Anderson and Marilynne Robinson. In Driftless, his “most accomplished work yet” (Joseph Kanon), Rhodes brought Words, W
Paperback, 464 pages
Published April 8th 2014 by Milkweed Editions (first published January 1st 2013)
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Jun 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jan 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 25, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!
Aug 24, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dick Vander Woude
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
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
Jeff Hanson
Apr 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Laurie Smithwick
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.
Jul 17, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Laura Weldon
Jul 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Lydia Presley
May 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, literary, 2013
I started Jewelweed by David Rhodes right in the middle of a move from central Illinois to the beautiful island of Oahu. The result was that I read this book slowly, more slowly than usual for me. It turned out being a marvelous thing. Why? Because I got to chew over the developments and think them through and good grief, this was an epic story and then some.

Jewelweed is the name of a small, weed-like plant that is best left unpicked. This theme is constant throughout Rhodes' story, and with def
Apr 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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 but it didn't seem to hold 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
May 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book may not have been quite as good as Driftless, but it was still filled with beautiful writing and interesting relationships. In both books, I thought, "this could be my town." Like Driftless, I wanted to start reading it again when I finished it.
Jill Olswanger
Jul 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Kaye Kern
May 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful story of life in all its wonders. At least as good as his other book about life in SW Wisconsin. A must read.
Apr 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mar 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult, fiction
I love books where multiple story lines intersect. This book is a little slow going but pulls you in if you give it time.
Jun 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a great read! Loved the characters and Rhodes' fantastic ability to make them come alive. Will look forward to reading his other books!
Rebecca McNutt
Aug 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This was an interesting one, and Rhodes really has a talent for capturing the extraordinary within the ordinary and the drama within life.
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
Oct 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The sequel to Rhodes excellent novel, Driftless, this continues the story but with additional characters and a complex story. My favorite new character is August, the son of Jacob and Pastor Winifred. Set in rural Wisconsin, Rhodes is especially cognizant of how small businesses and small churches find their way with grace and hope. I hope Rhodes continues to write after a 30 year absence from the craft.
Macgwire Hirt
This book was very interesting with its language and how the story is woven between these characters in a sort of way that will emotionally connect to you. I would recommend this to people who are more fascinated by people in the real world.
Sep 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: americana, midwest
Warm fuzzies (but substantive!) from a local author.
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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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“what I really want are thick books with fine print, difficult sentences, long words, and enormous ideas, books written in a feverish hand by writers who hate the world yet can’t keep from loving it, whose feelings so demand to be understood that if they didn’t write them down they would go blind. Bring me books by women who have fallen out of step with society and refuse to march and sing the old songs. Books by men who through terrifying sacrifice overcome all the challenges set before them but one. Find me books by sensualists who drink their cups dry every time and yet never figure out why they’re so thirsty, and books by pious men and women who continue to believe that being good will save them. Bring me books about people in love, people so passionate about each other they will stand against family, community, country, fortune, and fame in order to be together, and books about people who don’t have a chance in hell yet somehow find one. Bring me books about the fear of God and the depths of nature, books about history, philosophy, psychology, science, and motorcycles.” 1 likes
“Winnie trusted in the possibility of redemption. Life would not end in an apoplectic implosion of frustrated desires, foiled schemes, and defeated dreams, but rather in revealed glory.” 0 likes
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