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325 pages, Hardcover
First published August 25, 2020
Sadness is like an abandoned car left out in a field for good — it changes a little over the years, but doesn’t ever disappear. You may forget about it for a while, but it’s still there, rusting away, until you notice it again.On one level, Winter Counts will feel very familiar. A local tough guy who operates outside the law is tasked with solving a crime, but soon realizes that the problem goes much deeper than he was first led to believe. There’s an ex-girlfriend and an innocent kid, and the story is set in a struggling small town where everyone knows everyone else and it’s hard to break from one’s past. If you read crime fiction with amateur detectives, you’ll have read a book with a similar plot before.
Back in the time before Columbus, there were only Indians here, no skyscrapers, no automobiles, no streets. Of course, we didn’t use the words Indian or Native American then; we were just people. We didn’t know we were supposedly drunks or lazy or savages. I wondered what it was like to live without that weight on your shoulders, the weight of the murdered ancestors, the stolen land, the abused children, the burden every Native person carried.Winter Counts is a satisfying read regardless of which piece of the story attracted you first. It’s a solid, well-written crime novel, as well as an interesting look at a culture rarely depicted by the American media in any kind of nuanced way. Recommended.
“Winter counts. This was the winter of my sorrow, one I had tried to elude but which had come for me with a terrible cruelty.”
“When the legal system broke down like this, people came to me. For a few hundred bucks they’d get some measure of revenge. My contribution to the justice system.”
When Sybil died, everyone said that the grief would get better over time, but that hadn’t happened. What I’d discovered was that sadness is like an abandoned car left out in a field for good—it changes a little over the years, but doesn’t ever disappear. You may forget about it for a while, but it’s still there, rusting away, until you notice it again.