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Isaac Quiring.

Calgary, Detselig Enterprises, c1982.
186pp, paper, $8.95.
ISBN 0-920490-26-3.

Grades 12 and up.
Reviewed by A. Louise Nordin.

Volume 11 Number 2.
1983 March.

Frank Tilitsky, the story's central figure, is the second son in a Goose Lake Mennonite farm family. From adolescence to early manhood, he is followed closely through his struggles to find peace of mind and resolution amid the opposing forces in his life: his stern parents with their narrow view of what constitutes Christian living, the tenets of his branch of his church, the girls with whom he falls in love, the communities, rural, village and city, in which he lives and works, and the educational institutions that he chooses.

As a product of a rural Mennonite community and of a large city environment, the author apparently is steeped in the very background and influences causing Frank's mental turmoil. That kind of inner struggle, experienced by many but resolved by few, is a worthy theme, but Quiring is less than successful in handling it. Characters seem wooden, contrived; the plot is predictable; the setting is only reasonably depicted; the style is uneven.

Quiring assumes that readers know nothing of rural life and need to be educated. Descriptions and explanations add nothing to plot, theme, or characterization. Such condescension is insulting.

Inconsistencies are numerous. How, for example, in the "white eternity" of a blizzard, when lanterns allowed Frank's father to see only a few feet ahead, could Frank find himself "staring into the frozen face of his Uncle Bill who was at the bottom of the twelve foot deep Hector well?" And what prairie parent would allow his children to go to school, even escorted, in a storm so severe that livestock had frozen to death within a few hours?

What the protagonist sees as the double standards of his parents, his companions, and his church are part of his credible dilemma, as is his own deviation from what he considers his sexual code in the light of his denunciation of Goose Lake marriages as always inspired by pregnancies.

Alberta Culture's decision to support publication of this effort must be questioned. Not recommended.

A. Louise Nordin, Edmonton, AB.
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