Oregon is a beautiful state, full of incredible places to visit and explore. Rocky beaches, lush green forests, deep lakes, tall mountains, and the scrubby high desert, are all part of what we Oregonians call home. I think we can all agree that Oregon is a great place to live! It’s also the setting for many excellent books, a lot of which draw on the varied landscape to create the perfect atmosphere.
The Child Finder, by Rene Denfeld – Naomi is a private investigator who specializes in locating lost children. She seems to have an uncanny knack for finding them, maybe because she was once one herself. Madison Culver went missing three years ago, while picking out a Christmas tree with her parents deep in an Oregon forest, and Naomi is the Culver’s last hope at getting their daughter back. The book follows Naomi as she attempts to find Madison, all the while grappling with her own dark past, and traumatic events that she can’t quite remember. As Naomi draws nearer, it also focuses on Madison’s life with her captor, and her captor himself as he goes about his business. Rene Denfeld does an excellent job describing the snowy forest, and creating complex characters. It’s about how our past, no matter how dark, shapes who we become, whether it we let it consume us until we become something dark, or turn it around and use it to make us stronger. This book is dark and suspenseful, and sometimes rough to read, but it is worth it.
Red Clocks, by Leni Zumas – Taking place in the nearish future when abortion and in vitro fertilization are once again illegal, this book follows four women living in Newville, a fictional fishing town on the coast of Oregon. Ro is a high school teacher who is trying to get pregnant through artificial insemination, and writing a biography of a 19th century female explorer. Mattis is a teenager, and one of Ro’s students, who suddenly finds herself pregnant and alone. Susan is the mother of two children whose marriage is falling apart. Gin is a mender, a woman who lives out in the woods, and helps women in need, when the normal rules of society denies them care. When Gin is arrested and put on trial in what amounts to a 21st century witch hunt, the lives of all four women connect and collide. It’s about women’s rights, and how much say they have in what they do with their own bodies. It’s about what can happen when we help someone when society says we shouldn’t. This one is beautifully written, thought provoking, and culturally relevant.
Mink River, by Brian Doyle – Neawanaka is a fictional town on the coast of Oregon full of quirky inhabitants. There are Cedar and Worried Man, the town’s public works department who are creating an oral history project with all the people in town. There is Owen, and his pet crow Moses, who speaks English. Daniel, Worried Man’s grandson is rescued by a bear after his legs get crushed in a bike accident. Along with many others, even Mink River itself has a voice. Through this cast of colorful and complex characters, Brian Doyle paints a picture of life in a small coastal town. Both funny and sad, it is hard not to fall in love with the town, and all its residents.
Follow the link below to find a list of these books and more like them that you can place on hold.