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October 10, 2019

One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow by Olivia Hawker ~ Review

by Susan Roberts

"The seasons don't cease to change because we haven't the time to plant or tend or harvest, because grief like a hailstorm comes up sudden and frightens us with its noise.  Once the storm rolls on, the fields remain and life goes on, whatever we prefer." (p32)

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

October 2019; Lake Union; 978-1542006910
audio, ebook, print (496 pages); historical fiction
One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow takes place in Wyoming in 1870. There are few settlers and the Bemis and Weber families are neighbors - within walking distance - but their closest neighbors are 20 miles away. It's a long way to a small town and the families have to rely on themselves during the long days and the longer winters. The author's writing is so descriptive that I felt like I was with these families on the prairie with no one around for miles, working non- stop but being totally in touch with the land and the environment around them.

As the novel begins, Ernest Bemis finds his wife, Cora, in a compromising situation with their neighbor. Ernest doesn't think twice but shoots and kills his neighbor. He goes to prison for 2 years and that means that these two families have lost their men and have created a strong dislike of each other. The main day to day work on the farms fall to Beulah Bemis, age 13, and Clyde Weber, age 16. They both realize that for the two families to survive the winter, they need to work together but Cora Bemis is too ashamed and Nettie Mae is too angry and bitter to even consider it. Though Beulah is a hard worker and knows what needs to be done for the family to survive, she's a bit dreamy and magical. Clyde, on the other hand, has been raised by a cruel father and has to learn to be a man without his father's guidance, which may be a good thing because he doesn't want to become a man like his father. Once Cora and Nettie Mae realize that neither family can survive the winter alone, Cora and her family - Beulah and 3 younger children move into Nettie's Mae's home. There is no friendship between the two women but as the winter goes on, they start to learn to trust each other. But along with trust, will Nettie Mae be able to forgive Cora and will Cora be able to forgive herself so that they can work together to help their families survive the long winter?

This a beautifully written novel about love, friendship and survival of the harsh land that will stay in your mind long after you turn the last page. I found myself reading this book very slowly so that I could savor the lyrical writing and beautiful descriptions of the landscapes.

NOTE:  Be sure to read the author's notes at the end of the novel to find out how her family history gave her the idea for the novel and which of the characters are based on her ancestors.

Buy One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow at Amazon

About the Author

Through unexpected characters and vivid prose, Olivia Hawker explores the varied landscape of the human spirit. Olivia's interest in genealogy often informs her writing. Her first two novels from Lake Union Publishing, The Ragged Edge of Night and One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow (2019), are based on true stories found within the author's family tree. She lives in the San Juan Islands of Washington State, where she homesteads at Longlight, a one-acre microfarm dedicated to sustainable permaculture practices.

Susan Roberts lives in North Carolina when she isn't traveling. She and her husband enjoy traveling, gardening and spending time with their family and friends. She reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction, and thrillers. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on FacebookGoodreads, or Twitter

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  1. like the tease and your great review. does sound like hard times and i do remember as a kid working in the garden, grabbing a bite or two from whatever was ready. nothing like it, straight from the garden
    sherry @ fundinmental

  2. I love an author's note at the end of the book, especially if they explain why this is personally connected to them. I'm seeing that more often and I really like it. Thank you for being on this tour. Sara @ TLC Book Tours