It’s a puzzle to me. Two Duluth authors, two graduates of Duluth Denfeld High School and the University of Minnesota-Duluth, and two kids from Duluth’s Piedmont Heights neighborhood write memoirs about their families and upbringing and have them published essentially at the same time. What are the chances, right? Anyway.
This book, Grover’s latest, a slim volume containing reflections, poetry, stories, and mystical revelations of the Native heart is a great place to start your exploration of Duluth, Grover’s writing, and the Ojibwe culture’s intersection with white Minnesota. As always, the author carries the weight of a thousand years of Anishinaabeg life and history and myth on her back through a winding and thoroughly enjoyable exploration of ancestors, traditional stories, and the history of the Ojibwe in Duluth. The read, at first blush, seems lighthearted, almost breezy. But that’s just the author letting the reader become comfortable reading about a culture, a way of life, that likely is not his or her own.
And thus our histories and our lives are intertwined, but like any other real story this one is a jigsaw puzzle with a missing box-the pieces eventually fit together, but it may not look the way we thought it might.
Exactly so. Having labored to recall and put down in Duck and Cover: Things Learned Waiting for the Bomb (my own memoir), I too had to reach back into memory and drag stories and anecdotes and thoughts and beliefs from the dark recesses of the past. Maybe the images I, the memoirist, painted were accurate. Maybe not. But having devoured Gichigami Hearts and enjoyed Ms. Grover’s personal and cultural journey, I suspect the puzzle she has labored to put together for the greater world accurately reflects the image on the front cover of the puzzle box. A fine piece of writing from one of my favorite Minnesota authors.
4 and 1/2 stars out of 5.