“The End of Drum-Time,” by Hanna Pylväinen (Henry Holt)
This novel is set near the Arctic Circle in Scandinavia in the mid-19th century. Although the plot focuses on the forbidden love between a Sami (or Lapp) reindeer herder and the daughter of a Lutheran missionary minister, the story serves as yet another example of the clash between a native culture and a missionary zeal fomented by white men. It also highlights the clashes between the old and the new within the Sami culture, as some of the Sami natives embrace the Lutheran religion and others keep their distance and remain skeptical. The details of Sami life are so vivid that you can picture yourself right there, running with the reindeer. Moreover, there are many historical details interwoven into the novel that depict the geopolitical reality of Scandinavia in the mid-19th century, when once-fluid borders were starting to be delineated and enforced. — 2 stars (out of 4); Kathleen Lance, Denver
“Finding the Mother Tree,” by Suzanne Simard (Deckle Edge)
Suzanne Simard is a well-known forestry scientist, and I was excited to read this book. I had expected a recounting of her research findings, and I got that, but so much more: Simard’s book is a memoir as well. From her childhood eating soil in British Columbia through her education, the frustrations of being discounted as a female forester, her marriage, child rearing and family heartache, we learn so much about her, and her beloved forests. As in the finest memoirs, Simard incorporates what she learns from her work, forest ecology, into her life: her parenting, her health, her relationships. Her hypotheses about the interdependence of various species, how trees communicate with each other through mycorrhizal networks, and the way “mother trees” nourish their seedlings through sharing carbon is simply mind-blowing. — 4 stars (out of 4); Neva Gronert, Parker
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