By Ash Davidson
Scribner, 9781982144401, August 2021, 464pp.
The Short of It:
Slow build, but worth it in the end.
The Rest of It:
Colleen and Rich Gundersen are raising their young son, Chub, on the rugged California coast. It’s 1977, and life in this Pacific Northwest logging town isn’t what it used to be. For generations, the community has lived and breathed timber; now that way of life is threatened. ~ Indiebound
Damnation Spring is about a lot of things. That is why the story is sticking with me even though I finished it a few days ago. Colleen and Rich don’t have the perfect marriage but there’s love there, especially for their young son Chub. But after eight miscarriages, Colleen wants nothing more than to carry a baby to term but there’s a problem. The spray used to control the growth in their logging community is poisoning their water. Colleen, an amateur midwife to the other women in the community has seen the proof of it more than she cares to admit. Babies, born with half a brain, and now her own sister is pregnant.
Colleen’s determination at finding the cause for her miscarriages creates problems for Rich and his logging team. He wants to ignore it but when he looks at his son Chub, he also doesn’t want to endanger his life or Colleen’s. Plus, he has a financial stake in all of this because he purchased a large part of the land, with the hopes to sell the timber but there are challenges there too. Roads, not owned by him. You might own the timber but you can’t get it out if the roads aren’t available to you.
This was a rich, complicated story about people trying to survive. I loved the complexity of the characters. There is a rawness to the story too. The beauty of the timber, the destruction of the forest, the poisoning of the water and everything around it trying so hard to survive. It was very good and I didn’t notice its length at nearly 500 pages.
Source: Review copy provide by the publisher.
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