West of Here
Port Bonita is a small town in the northwest Olympic mountain region. In the late 1800's it is a frontier town that rest along the river. It is shared by the white settlers, the frontiersmen exploring the mountains, and the Klallam native American tribe. One white woman is single and expecting a baby soon. The father of the baby wants to marry her but she values her independence. One Klallam woman has a son who sees everything and says little. An explorer is taking a team to a new area up in the mountains.
In 2006 Port Bonita is a small town with one industry to help sustain the citizens. The Klallam tribe is still present in very small numbers. The river's 100+ year old dam is about to be brought down, flooding the area below the dam and restoring the environment. The citizens of the town are struggling to figure out what they should do next.
This book was chosen for a June read in my real life book club. I tried really hard to read West of Here. Usually I give myself the first quarter or third of a book or the first 100 pages, whichever comes first, before I decide it's not worth it when there are other books waiting for me. But I stuck with Jonathan Evison's saga for almost half the book and finally gave up. It's the saga of a town when the dam was first built and then when it comes down. Evison looks at the political views, environmental views, and economic views of both time periods that show why the people do what they do.
The other members of my book club were split. There were a couple others who, like me, tried and couldn't finish it. Many didn't think it was great but it was OK. A few thought it was quite good and discussed the contrast of the time periods and the people. A couple times their conversation almost made me want to pick up West of Here and skip to the end. But I know that's not going to happen.
Although some of his descriptions are vivid - I could almost feel the cold in the explorers' camp - most of the time the book didn't hold my interest. It doesn't drag, but it doesn't pick up, either. There was a good outline for most of the characters, but they never fleshed out into believable people for me.
If you're interested in the southwest Washington State area or environmental issues and effects, you might like West of Here. That's what appealed to my fellow book club members who liked the book. But it's not one I can recommend.
Notice: Non-graphic violence
These reviews are personal opinions only and in no way reflect other readers' opinions of the books discussed.
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