A four-year-old girl goes missing from the blueberry fields of Maine, sparking a tragic mystery that will remain unsolved for nearly fifty years July 1962. A Mi'kmaq family from Nova Scotia arrives in Maine to pick blueberries for the summer. Weeks later, four-year-old Ruthie, the family's youngest child, vanishes mysteriously. She is last seen by her six-year-old brother, Joe, sitting on her favourite rock at the edge of a berry field. Joe will remain deeply affected by his sister's disappearance for years to come. In Boston, a young girl named Norma grows up as the only child of an affluent family. Her father is emotionally distant, her mother frustratingly overprotective. Norma is often troubled by recurring dreams and visions that seem more like memories than imagination. As she grows older, Norma slowly comes to realize there is something her parents aren't telling her. Unwilling to abandon her intuition, she will spend decades trying to uncover this family secret.
It’s a mystery with a very discernible answer within the first few chapters. Peters can be heavy-handed, and it is frustratingly clear...that something is amiss with Norma’s parentage. It’s equally trying when the author uses dei ex machina to move the plot forward ... But if plot is not Peters’s strength, she excels in writing characters for whom we can’t help rooting ... Peters takes on the monumental task of giving witness to people who suffered through racist attempts of erasure like her Mi’kmaw ancestors.
Peters, a writer of Mi’kmaw descent, presents the Mi’kmaq as struggling to hold on to the things that make them Indian while surrounded by a culture that wants to erase them. But in telling the story from the point-of-view of two Indians...she recenters the narrative ... A haunting novel, unfurling slowly and far too casually, a nightmare told over a cup of tea. A little research reveals the horrific truths underlying Peters’s story: Native children in both the US and Canada were kidnapped and stolen at alarming rates for a long time, raised in cultures just footsteps from their own, without a clue about their true origins.
Not meant to be a mystery. The strength of Amanda Peters’s novel lies in its understanding of how trauma spreads through a life and a family, and its depiction of the challenges facing Indigenous people ... Though the plot is overdetermined and overly drawn out, nuanced characterizations benefit from all the space they have to develop.