Haven’s Wake by Ladette Randolph

I just finished Haven’s Wake, Ladette Randolph’s newest novel, and it’s pretty stunning. It follows a Mennonite family through the first few days after the patriarch’s death and Ladette does a wonderful job of capturing the disparate characters’ voices, as well as the intricacies and silences of a family. She writes of Elsa, the grieving widow,

“She had hard work ahead of her. Grieving was as exhausting physically as it was mentally. She knew she couldn’t put off forever the great heaving sadness ahead of her as she realized fully in the days to come what it would mean to never see Haven again in this life. She would feel it most when she boxed up his things, and yet she looked forward to that work. She welcomed the orderliness of such tasks, the necessity of facing her changed reality. What she couldn’t stand now was the waiting.”

This passage captures well the nuances of the book–how Elsa is sad but can also relish in a way the sinking into that sad, her determination to get going on the pain and her sense of responsibility to move on, how she welcomes a return to order and yet the sense too she hasn’t fully comprehended yet what’s happened and what it will mean. All the characters react to things on more than one level providing a rich and complicated story. It acts out beautifully what Erin McGraw says, to “complicate the motive; simplify the action.”

I strongly recommend this book!


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