“Compact and tightly plotted, this outstanding work is packed with emotion and restlessness.” - Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)
"The novel is by turns harrowing, comical, and heartwarming."- BlueInk Reviews (starred review)
When 64-year-old Kay O'Brien hears her young Ojibwe neighbor, Shawna, scream out on the lake behind her house, she wants to help. Kay knows thegirl's mother was killed years ago by a white man. What she doesn’t know is that Shawna may soon be in trouble herself. But Kay and her son, Douglas, are both fighting ghosts of their own. Kay keeps her husband’s ashes on top of the TV and talks to him every day while drinking stiff Manhattans and trying to ignore the onset of Alzheimer’s. Douglas, too, is carrying around the guilt of having ignored his father’s last request which may have been the cause for his heart attack.
These three lives become intricately woven together in a small Wisconsin town where racial tensions are churning just beneath the surface of what often appears to be placid, everyday life. JERKWATER is, ultimately, a story about the damage we sometimes do on the difficult journey toward healing.