Long on scenery and short on excitement, Mt. Auburn looks like any other valley town from high above on the mountain pass. But down in the valley, the railway shipping yard divides it north to south and a thinly-veiled tolerance between those living on the Reservation and in town separates it east to west. On and off the Reservation, Gin and Wayne are best friends, sharing everything, including a love of Grace, a local beauty.
One hot, blustery evening, restless and full of adolescent rebellion, the boys ignite a fire in the rail yard leaving one of them near death and the town itself hanging in the balance. Set amidst the rugged wilderness of northwest Montana, CHOOSING GRACE, is the story of lives interrupted, the choices we are forced to make and the enduring power of family and friendship.
Finalist, Dana Award for the Novel
Read an excerpt from CHOOSING GRACE . . .
In a second – less – the flip of a switch, snow began to fall, turning everything instantly white. It didn’t fall straight, laying itself down evenly onto the roof and hood of the men’s truck. It came in on jagged, horizontal gusts that left the wet snow spattered against the grill, mounded in and around the headlight casings. This was the way high up along the Divide where the rain and melt was instantly diverted east to the Atlantic, or west to the Pacific. Still, the semi driver and the man riding shotgun sat at attention, their backs straight, making no contact with the worn vinyl seats behind them. The driver pitched forward, clutching the wheel as though his gaze could illuminate their way, like headlights.
The snow, the blizzard, had put the two of them in this together and the passenger knew he no longer had to try and hide who he was or where he came from. He reached around and pulled the pony tail he had tucked down into his jacket out over his collar. The driver would simply be glad for the company, glad not to be alone up here in this. Truckers liked to pick up Indian hitchers on either side of the Pass. They believed crossing the Divide with a Kootenai was a ‘get out of jail free’ card, some kind of spiritual insurance policy against burned out brakes and sudden white-outs.
The man opened his mouth and turned to say something to the driver, only then realizing he didn’t know what to say. He didn’t even know the driver’s name so he closed his mouth and turned again to face the windshield. He owed the driver the simple courtesy of calling him by name and if not, then he owed the driver silence.
The driver saw the man shifting in his seat and said, “What do they call you?”
The man paused for a second, then said, “Bill. Bill,” the man said again as though trying it on for fit.
The driver looked over at him and nodded. But the man’s eyes stayed forward, his gaze steady. He kept his hands on his thighs, his fingers splayed, the creases of his knuckles pulled tight. He needed to keep focused on what lay ahead. All of it, anything there was for him now lay over the pass, east of the Divide.