Set in a tiny lakeside town on the Canadian prairie, this is the story of a diverse, intertwined cast of characters, struggling to overcome personal loss. Runaway Noreen, hardened at 17 by a rough childhood with an alcoholic mother and an abusive stepfather, feels no love for anyone or anything. She also has a knack for stumbling blindly from one disastrous mistake to another: she gets pregnant, steals, heedlessly injures a dog and accidentally starts a fire.
Noreen’s latest boyfriend, a handsome Cree named Wesley, misses her painfully despite her wretched treatment of him. Lynda is a divorced mom with a 5-year-old son. Del, a shy farmer, is fixing up the house of his brother, who drowned years ago—and we find out why Del is so haunted by his brother’s death. Dolores, 76, wonders why her longtime friend, Mary, seems so much more distant now. It turns out that Mary has secret worries of her own about aging and illness.
In many ways, Dolores is the spiritual center of this book. The energy she derives from her instinctive love of nature is a source of healing for herself and others. Although disillusioned by her daughter’s death a year earlier, Dolores has a rare gift for reaching out to people in trouble and helping them reconcile with the truth.
By the end of the book, Noreen’s heart has awakened. She has learned to take responsibility for her actions and she becomes an instrumental catalyst in turning several other people toward happiness. And yes, the rift in Mary’s friendship with Dolores has been healed.