Author: David Swykert
Publisher: Cambridge Books
Publication Date: May 19, 2016
Genre: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction
Rating: 4/5 "I liked it."
I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.
Maggie Elizabeth Harrington is a voice driven novel about a thirteen year old girl in an isolated 1890's northern Michigan mining town trying to save a pack of wolves from a bounty hunter.
Central Mine is now a ghost town on the remote Keweenaw Peninsula in western upper Michigan, but when Maggie Harrington and Tommie Stetter roamed its nameless streets it was a thriving Cornish mining community with the Central Mine Methodist Church at the center of its social fabric. Young Maggie is a free spirited young woman whose idealism often brings her into conflict with the strict teachings of Reverend White and her stern father as she looks for answers to feeling unwanted and unloved. This historical story of a young woman's struggle with environmental and moral issues concerning the slaughter of wolves, and the churches condemnation of her love for a young man, are as real in today's global world as they were for young Maggie over a century ago.
As a native Minnesotan, I felt that there were several things I could relate to in this book even though it is set in Michigan. This was especially true each time Lake Superior was mentioned and I felt like I was reading about my home. It may seem cheesy, but I loved that I was able to connect with this book that deeply.
I felt that Maggie Elizabeth is a very well developed character. Although she is thirteen, she thinks quite deeply and always gives a reason for thinking the way that she does. Swykert does a wonderful job with language as he develops her character. Although she is thinking beyond her age, Swykert writes them the way that a thirteen year old would actually think them. I'm a high school teacher. I have read umpteen student papers and have had countless conversations with thirteen year olds to KNOW that Swykert is definitely hitting his mark. Despite her deep thinking, Maggie Elizabethembodies the moon eyed habits of a teenager in love.
Perhaps my favorite part of this novel was that Swykert spent quite a bit of time developing his themes and solidifying them in his readers' heads. There is no doubt that he is talking about love and about thinking for yourself. It is so blatantly obvious that he wants readers to think about these things and they are presented in a way that does not allow the audience to escape without considering them. This was such an amazing thing to see! I would love to use this book to demonstrate theme and universal topics to my students.
However, this piece did lose a point from me because there were several distracting typos. I'm not sure if the copy that I received was an uncorrected proof, but I felt that this book should have been edited much better than it was.
This was definitely a literary journey that I will be taking again.
About the Author
DJ Swykert is a former 911 operator writing fiction in the Cincinnati area. His work has appeared in The Tampa Review, Detroit News, Coe Review, Monarch Review, the Newer York, Lunch Ticket, Gravel, Zodiac Review, Barbaric Yawp and Bull. His books include Children of the Enemy, Alpha Wolves, The Pool Boy’s Beatitude, Justice in the Street, Sweat Street and The Death of Anyone. He is also a wolf expert.
You can find him at: www.magicmasterminds.com/