Nerdy blogger who loves books, movies, music, television, travel, giveaways, pop culture, fat cats & comfy pj's.
Ellen Airgood is a gifted storyteller—her heartwarming novel about small town life on the shores of Lake Superior in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula was quite charming, witty and even relatable, even though I’m a “troll” (For you non-Michiganders, the folks who “live under the bridge” in the Lower Peninsula are refered as “trolls” by our “Yooper” Upper Peninsula neighbors) who grew up landlocked in Southeastern Michigan. I’m always a fan of small towns and the citizens who live inside them, so reading Airgood’s debut novel was like drinking a cool, tall glass of lemonade, which, coincidentally, I just finished drinking, in honor of this review. South of Superior was sweet, I lapped it up as fast as I could, and I was extremely disappointed when it was gone. I was so inspired by this book, I decided to take a vacation in the U.P. with my family this summer. To me, nothing is better than going home for vacation.
Living in Michigan for most of my life (Don’t even get me started on that lost year I lived in Las Vegas), I’ve always been a huge fan of my beautiful state. We’ve got one of the best states in the nation, looks wise, but we are even luckier to have some of the most friendly people you’ll ever want to live next door to. I can’t tell you how many times an old neighbor of mine mowed my lawn, or helped me fix my car. Sure, Detroit was also once known as the murder capital, and we’ve had out fair share of famous serial killers and criminals, and 3 of our towns even made Newsweek’s Top 10 list of America’s Dying Cities this past year, but if you travel here to one of our many beautiful coastal resort towns, you will see Airgood’s novel alive and in action this summer, as hundreds of small towns here are filled with the same sorts of restaurant owners and workers, car mechanics, and elderly people she wrote about, working and bound together by friendship, loyalty, charity and love for one another. My goodness, you don’t even have to travel here to Michigan to see the magic of our state in action–just watch this fabulous video made by a small nonprofit and shot by a couple of guys in their twenties, who wanted to represent Grand Rapids in a good light, after their beloved town made that Newsweek list.
Like most people, hardworking Madeline Stone came to Michigan because she had nothing to lose. She was looking for a chance to start over, and get away from the train wreck that was once her life. Madeline was living in Chicago, all set to marry a man and live a possible perfect (and therefore) unsettling life, but when she received a letter from Gladys, the girlfriend of her absent grandfather, Madeline decided to accept Gladys request and move in with her in Michigan, to help her take care of her aging sister, Arbutus. Madeline was at a loss, as her adoptive mother had died, and she grasped on this plan to move to the U.P. because she was “lost and enraged and she wasn’t even completely sure why. Her despair was like a virus that had infected her entire system, destroyed her at the core.”
Madeline’s own mother had abandoned her as a child, and she wasn’t raised by her grandfather or by any of her other family–she was raised by a woman who felt the desire to care for the lost little girl found in the U.P. Madeline has plenty of issues, and so does Gladys, and you’d expect these two to immediately bond and decipher the mystery of their lives. Airgood decides to start these woman off on the wrong foot, and Madeline slowly learns of her family’s past, while Gladys still can’t come to terms and forgive herself.
Life in the U.P. is hard–there isn’t a lot of money to be made, but Madeline manages to find a job as a waitress, and she begins to meet and mingle with some of the town’s people. She watches the divide and contempt grow between the new business owners against the longtime and elderly residents of her small town, and she pitches in to help raise the young song of the town’s wild child. Slowly, Madeline discovers her roots and the mysteries of her childhood, while learning the ties these Scottish and Finnish residents have with one another. Madeline toys with the idea of staying in the charming but isolated town, considering the idea of buying and running the former hotel that has sat closed for years. She learns small gestures go a long way in this town, and learns more about the idea of “family” than she had ever hoped.
To pre-order your own copy of South of Superior, visit Amazon.com now.
SOUTH OF SUPERIOR GIVEAWAY – 1 LUCKY WINNER WILL WIN A COPY
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Contest ends Saturday, June 11, 2011 at midnight. Good luck to you all!