Laird Hunt (The Evening Road; Neverhome) explores the microcosm of rural Indiana through Zorrie's eyes in this beautiful and intimate historical novel. After being orphaned young and moving in with her harsh and cold aunt, Zorrie leaves her home in Indiana to start life independent of her past. Her travels do not take her far, but the impact these experiences have resonates through her life. Her short stint as a "radium girl" in Ottawa, Ill., and the friendships she made there were not enough to keep her in the neighboring state. Home beckons her back to Indiana, to a small farm close to where she grew up. That little farm introduces her to her husband and, from there, brings her a new profession in agriculture.
Hunt illustrates the ripple effect of Zorrie's small choices in poetic and thoughtful language. Zorrie's idyllic life on her farm is disrupted by tragedies--deaths of loved ones, a miscarriage, unrequited love. But these never discourage Zorrie's lust for living. Though her life is overall a quiet one, her desire to live fully never ceases. Readers will easily connect to her drive to succeed and be a part of her community while discovering her passions. Hunt packs Zorrie's whole life in this slim book of fewer than 200 pages, but it doesn't feel short, nor does it feel too long. Zorrie's life may seem simple to some, but it's a rich well of experiences worth exploring. --Amy Dittmeier, librarian, Chicago, Ill.