The fate of the Vietnam Vet who showed up in Hatchet Inlet with a hospital bracelet from Walter Reed and a penchant for privacy propels Sarah Stonich’s Laurentian Divide like snowmelt down the Temperance River ... Theories of Rauri’s demise are plentiful, plausible and not un-humorous — death by drowning, head injury, propane asphyxiation, environmental terrorism, badger attack — but as speculation flies the locals go about their lives ...There are unresolved plot points in the novel and too many characters to keep track of, but...it’s a treat to return to Hatchet Inlet and revisit characters who continue to face joy and sorrow with a wry resolve that is fetching and funny. But as these characters rail and wrangle — placing bets on Ice Out, debating mining in the Reserve, working custody agreements, hatching business plans — Nature continues to loom: awesome and unchanging, the Great Protagonist.
The sleepy town of Hatchet Inlet, Minnesota, is finally waking up from a long, frigid winter. Residents gather at Pavola’s diner, eager to chat about the waitress’ upcoming wedding; to mourn the loss of two bright young women in a car wreck; and to wager on when stubborn recluse Rauri Paar will make his seasonal trek back into town. Rauri spends winters alone on the private land that’s been grandfathered out of inclusion in the million-acre wilderness called the Reserve. The small-town gossip mill starts churning when Rauri doesn’t show up, and more than a few residents begin to suspect foul play ... Stonich’s slow burn of a novel questions what—and who—can belong to us.
Sarah Stonich’s Laurentian Divide continues the story of northern Minnesota’s Hatchet Inlet, a vacation town whose residents are deeply rooted in a place dependent on transience. Poised on winter’s trailing edge, everyone waits for Rauri Paar’s return, for when he navigates his way into town from his remote island, he heralds the spring thaw. When the ice melts and Rauri doesn’t come, the search for him knocks loose an emotional lost-and-found, with the meltwaters of the town’s past flooding the present and propelling everyone toward a changed future ... Thanks to Stonich’s keen depictions, this is a small town peopled with actual people: diverse individuals united by a common experience of place. An alcoholic veterinarian struggling post-divorce, a retired schoolteacher turned bold and brassy in her dementia, a famous artist retrenching her family’s rundown resort, a widower falling for a waitress, a Vietnam veteran who crafts antler chandeliers, and many others—they are the ones found in the corners of America’s middle, or any place with little room to hide differences.