The Sentence by Louise Eldrich

It’s hard to know how to present this book. It has so much in it. The emotion, the situations and the history bound in it is not that easy to unpack and talk about separately.
For once, maybe I will begin with the story. The first quarter of the narrative introduces us to our lead protagonist, Tookie. She is an Ojibwe woman who gets caught in a complicated drug situation. Her trust in the people around her is her undoing, and the colour of her skin does not help matters when it comes to the justice system. However, the bulk of the story is when she gets released and the 2020 situation in Minneapolis.
Luckily for her, Tookie has people looking out for her. She spends her time incarcerated reading, which introduces a whole new world to her. She finds love and a job once she gets out. By the time 2020 comes around, she is settled in life with a few minor familial issues.
Things start to go bad when she finds out that a persistent customer of their bookstore has died. Tookie feels haunted by her, literally. She is not the only one, at least as time goes by. In this backdrop, the pandemic occurs. The idea of heritage and belonging, as well as the history of the US and what they built on, is then explored.
I learnt a lot from this book, and the style of narration took some getting used to, but by the end, I felt like I ‘got’ it. There was a lot of angst, grief, and helplessness woven into the plot. It is more about everything than about any one thing. It was a lot to take in. Once I got Tookie’s thought process and could imagine the life she led, along with all the people who make an appearance in the story, I enjoyed it more than I thought I would when I began.
This is not a book that one can go in without warning. Only if a reader is prepared for the kind of content they are about to encounter, I feel, they will be able to better appreciate the read. I was not sure what I was picking up when I did, and I think that might have impacted my experience. It is a well-talked-about book in both the reading circles and the book blogging ones. I may be late in getting to it, but I am glad I picked it up. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a serious book with its own small lighter moments, but knowing that the pandemic/lockdown features here as well.
I received an ARC thanks to NetGalley and the publishers, but the review is entirely based on my own reading experience.


2 thoughts on “The Sentence by Louise Eldrich”

  1. A good review, thank you. I have had different bloggers make me feel I would and wouldn’t take to this – I’m waiting to see if it pops up in the charity shops or otherwise jumps into my hands, then I’ll know (I’m OK on the history and reality, not so keen on the ghost bit, myself!).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for dropping by!The ghost is a very integral part of the narrative, she’s used as a tool to further the conversation and shape the story 😃 I hope you do get a chance to pick it up!

      Liked by 1 person

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