Sharon Butala’s new novel begins with the wrong kind of bang when retiring social worker Judith falls on the ice on the way to her retirement party. The debilitating concussion that follows seems to shake loose a confusing whirl of memories.
Judith is a mother of four, and her relationships with her daughters are complicated. They all seem to have men trouble, except for the wild daughter who seems to have settled down, inexplicably to Judith, in Jerusalem. With her ears still ringing and her strength compromised by a shaky recovery, Judith leaves Calgary and, to everyone’s bewilderment, moves back to the town near the family farm. In Wisdom, Saskatchewan, she confronts many unanswered questions: Why was her father, a World War Two vet, so troubled? What are her brother and sister hiding from her? As she pursues answers to unsolved mysteries in her own life, more complicated and wider ranging questions arise.
Living in a small town is a shock after the anonymity of a big city. Judith finds herself exposed to watchful neighbours, and she is watchful in turn, seeing things that are mystifying at first–and then alarming. Small town bigotry and what looks like a serious crime unfolding in the house next door make her return even more difficult–what is she doing here? Does she have enough wisdom to unravel her past? Does she have a future in a place where she is not exactly welcome?
This thought-provoking and very readable tale shows not only the suffering that comes from family secrets, but also unfolds one woman’s late life awakening to the complex shadows cast by World War Two and the Holocaust.