Tag Archives: Read Across MN

CMLE Reads Across MN: The Life We Bury

The Life We Bury, Book 1 in the Detective Max Rupert Series , by Allen Eskens.

Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes, and it also has many interesting books. In this series, we are sharing some of the books we like from Minnesota, or Minnesota authors.

We are mapping our literary journey around Minnesota, so you can see all the interesting places where our books are set. Follow our progress on our Google Map, accessible by clicking that link or searching for the title CMLE Reads Across Minnesota! (We located this book, entirely arbitrarily, at the Spam Museum in Austin – because it’s a cool place, and it was mentioned in the book.  Enjoy!)

From Goodreads: “College student Joe Talbert has the modest goal of completing a writing assignment for an English class. His task is to interview a stranger and write a brief biography of the person. With deadlines looming, Joe heads to a nearby nursing home to find a willing subject. There he meets Carl Iverson, and soon nothing in Joe’s life is ever the same.

Carl is a dying Vietnam veteran–and a convicted murderer. With only a few months to live, he has been medically paroled to a nursing home, after spending thirty years in prison for the crimes of rape and murder.

As Joe writes about Carl’s life, especially Carl’s valor in Vietnam, he cannot reconcile the heroism of the soldier with the despicable acts of the convict. Joe, along with his skeptical female neighbor, throws himself into uncovering the truth, but he is hamstrung in his efforts by having to deal with his dangerously dysfunctional mother, the guilt of leaving his autistic brother vulnerable, and a haunting childhood memory.

Thread by thread, Joe unravels the tapestry of Carl’s conviction. But as he and Lila dig deeper into the circumstances of the crime, the stakes grow higher. Will Joe discover the truth before it’s too late to escape the fallout?”

CMLE Reads Across MN: Dangerously Divine

Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes, and it also has many interesting books. In this series, we are sharing some of the books we like from Minnesota, or Minnesota authors.

We are mapping our literary journey around Minnesota, so you can see all the interesting places where our books are set. Follow our progress on our Google Map, accessible by clicking that link or searching for the title CMLE Reads Across Minnesota!

Dangerously Divine, by Deborah Blake

This is not a usual book set in Minnesota – it’s book 2 in one series, and a continuation of another three book series. None of the previous books are set in Minnesota; but this one features Gregori Sun, who comes to a monastery in Minneapolis to recover from tragedy.  While volunteering in a soup kitchen, he meets librarian Ciera Evans. Naturally, she is adept in researching through old and valuable books; but she’s also adept in butt-kicking vigilante action on the city’s bad guys! (Shhh! That part is kind of a secret) I like all the books in this series; but it was particularly fun to read about the library and explore settings around the Cities in this fictional world!

From Amazon: “Though his physical wounds have healed, Gregori Sun, the eldest of the Riders, remains in spiritual turmoil. His search for his mother, the one person able to heal his soul and save his life, is failing—until he crosses paths with a beautiful and fascinating librarian who might be the key to his salvation…

Ciera Evans’s bookish ways are just a guise. The product of a difficult past, she has dedicated her life to saving lost teens—by any means necessary. She works alone, but when a dark, brooding stranger proposes they team up to solve both their problems, she is tempted—in more ways than one…

After Ciera and Sun’s plans are derailed by dangerous enemies, they find themselves entangled in an ungodly affair—one that will force them to either find new strength together or be forever haunted by their pasts alone.”

Guest Post for CMLE Reads Across MN: While the Locust Slept

Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes, and it also has many interesting books. In this series, we are sharing some of the books we like from Minnesota, or Minnesota authors.

We are mapping our literary journey around Minnesota, so you can see all the interesting places where our books are set. Follow our progress on our Google Map, accessible by clicking that link or searching for the title CMLE Reads Across Minnesota!

This is a guest post from CMLE member Violet Fox. Want to write a book review for us? Let us know!

I picked up While the Locust Slept because the author is a member of the Fond du Lac Band of Ojibwe, and I’ve been trying to learn more about the cultures of the Native peoples who were here in Minnesota before settlement (i.e., the Dakota and the Ojibwe). But there’s little about Ojibwe culture in this book, as the author was cut off from his people when, shortly after his birth, his mother was sent to an asylum in St. Peter and his father abandoned him. While the Locust Slept is an autobiographical memoir of Peter Razor’s childhood and adolescence as a ward of the State of Minnesota from 1930 through the mid-1940s.

Though school officials claimed that children would stay there no longer than three months, Razor grew up at the State Public School for Dependent and Neglected Children in Owatonna, living there from infancy to age fifteen. His Indian heritage and dark skin made him a favorite target for abusive employees at the school, and made it unlikely that a white family would adopt him. Razor’s straightforward prose makes it easy to imagine the cruelty (both intentional and unintentional) endured by a child who had only known life in an institutional setting.
At age fifteen, Razor, like many orphaned boys at the State School, was placed with a family living on a farm in Rushford, Minnesota. He was treated badly and underfed, by the family who took him in as a hired hand. Because he was quite intelligent, he was able to make passing grades at high school when he was allowed to attend. After a particularly severe beating, social services could no longer ignore the abuse and Razor was moved to the farm of a family who treated him kindly.
While the Locust Slept is a fascinating look into the history of Minnesota and how children were seen by the state’s social services not as requiring any nurturing, but merely as small adults who needed discipline above all to become useful members of society. It’s also a testament to the author’s resilience, though his difficult childhood was not without serious consequence—as an adult he suffered from anxiety and depression. Razor’s moving memoir is heartbreaking, but not a bleak read.
The State School in Owatonna was shut down in 1947 and the grounds are now home to the Minnesota State Public School Orphanage Museum. You can take a self-guided tour to see the museum, one of the cottages where boys lived, and the cemetery where 198 State School children are buried. I’m planning on visiting this summer to learn more about this chapter of our state’s history.

CMLE Reads Across MN: Through No Fault of My Own: A Girl’s Diary of Life on Summit Avenue in the Jazz Age

Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes, and it also has many interesting books. In this series, we are sharing some of the books we like from Minnesota, or Minnesota authors.

We are mapping our literary journey around Minnesota, so you can see all the interesting places where our books are set. Follow our progress on our Google Map, accessible by clicking that link or searching for the title CMLE Reads Across Minnesota!This book sounds so interesting, and as someone who has always been curious about the lives of the people who have lived in the fancy mansions on Summit Avenue, I’m excited to read about a girl who lived there during the Jazz Age!

Through No Fault of My Own: A Girl’s Diary of Life on Summit Avenue in the Jazz Age by Coco Irvine (Author) and Peg Meier (Introduction) is about Coco, the daughter of a lumber baron, who grew up on Summit Avenue during the Jazz Age.

“Coco’s diary carefully records her adventures, problems, and romances, written with a lively wit and a droll sense of humor. Whether sneaking out to a dance hall in her mother’s clothes or getting in trouble for telling an off-color joke, Coco and her escapades will captivate and delight preteen readers as well as their mothers and grandmothers.
Peg Meier’s introduction describes St. Paul life in the 1920s and provides context for the privileged world that Coco inhabits, while an afterword tells what happens to Coco as an adult—and reveals surprises about some of the other characters in the diary.”
Is there a Minnesota book you think we should feature? Leave a comment, let us know!

 

Guest Post for CMLE Reads Across MN: Minnesota 13: Stearns County’s Wet Wild Prohibition Days

Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes, and it also has many interesting books. In this series, we are sharing some of the books we like from Minnesota, or Minnesota authors.

We are mapping our literary journey around Minnesota, so you can see all the interesting places where our books are set. Follow our progress on our Google Map, accessible by clicking that link or searching for the title CMLE Reads Across Minnesota!

This is a guest post from CMLE member Violet Fox. Want to write a book review for us? Let us know

I’m always looking for a way to feel more connected with the history of central Minnesota, and I was delighted to stumble upon a very interesting part of our history—the illicit history of moonshine!

The 2016 documentary “Minnesota 13: From Grain to Glass” (directed by Kelly Nathe and Norah Shapiro) and the 2007 book Minnesota 13: Stearns County’s Wet Wild Prohibition Days (written by Elaine Davis) both tell the story of an apparently excellent version of moonshine known as Minnesota 13. This clear distilled whiskey, made with a variety of corn developed by the University of Minnesota for a shorter growing season, was well-known throughout Minnesota and beyond. One of the old timers in the documentary tells a joke about a sailor at a bar in Hong Kong who sees a sign that reads, “If we don’t have the liquor you ask for, your drinks are free all evening”; the sailor asks for Minnesota 13, and the bartender replies, “Do you want Bowlus or Holdingford?”

The documentary highlighted many historical organizations in the area, including the archives of the Stearns History Museum, the Holdingford Area Historical Society, and the Dassel History Center. Local archivists and historians told fascinating stories of people struggling through the Depression who saw distilling moonshine during Prohibition as a way to feed their families and keep their farms. Both the book and the movie take care to place the illicit liquor trade in its historical context. Central Minnesota is an island of German Catholics, and while many Minnesotan Lutherans were teetotalers, the German Catholics saw drinking (especially beer) as an integral part of their culture. Religious leaders in the area looked the other way as their parishioners broke the law; distilling moonshine may have been illegal, but it wasn’t immoral. In fact, the documentary claims that the monks of Saint John’s Abbey ran and owned one of the biggest stills in Stearns County!

The documentary goes on to tell the story of a modern micro-distillery (11wells, based in St. Paul) dedicated to bringing the original flavor back, from growing Minnesota 13 corn from heritage seeds to distilling a whiskey inspired by the moonshine (though they use oats, wheat, and barley in addition to the original corn mash). This book and film shine light on the bootlegging stories of this supposedly sleepy part of Minnesota; if you live in this area, you’ll enjoy knowing more about its fascinating history.