I was so amazed by this book – it’s the best one I’ve read in a while. I loved this it – the characters, Little Wing Wisconsin, and the story of their interconnected lives. Something about the book seemed so familiar. I’ve been to Wisconsin, and to Red Wing, Minnesota, and I loved them both. It’s so peaceful, and green, and beautiful. Of course, I visited during the summer when it was green, and warm, and the nights just a bit chilly – it was beautiful, peaceful, and seemed perfect. I have never been there during the winter – nor do I think I’d ever want to. One of the pivotal parts of this story happens in the dead of winter, when things were buried in snow. Literally buried under inches and inches of it!
I loved these characters – and felt a part of their lives, their drama. Four friends, having grown up together, experience love, marriage, and hearbreak. I was drawn in, and could not put the book down. Kip, Lee, Hank, and Ronny grew up together, inseparable, yet their adult lives could not be any different. Kip, “the smart one”, went away to Chicago and made a small fortune as a trader. Lee was a Grammy-winning musician, and had toured around the world. Hank was the one who stayed, taking over his family’s dairy farm. Ronny, a rodeo star, fell off the bull too many times, and too many concussions had left him almost incapable of taking care of himself.
Beth is at the center of the story. The girl next door, the one they loved, still love, object of their affection. I wanted to be her – I envied her and the admiration she had of all four of these men. She seemed beautiful, loving, loved, and radiant. Butler, although this is his first novel, seems to have a knack for creating complex and beautiful characters.
Beth and Hank were once high school sweethearts. They broke up briefly after college. During this hiatus, Beth and Lee get together – and it’s this experience that inspired him to write the songs from his most popular album. Lee has carried a torch for her all these years later, and it’s later in the book that the title of the book is explained.
As a Midwesterner myself (having grown up in Missouri), I love these characters, and what they represent, they are honest, straightforward, and hard working. These are my people, and I loved this book. Seriously could not put it down, and when I did at the end, I wanted more!