Small Reckonings: Physical and emotional isolation shape the Burke family story in the 1920s and 1930s when homesteaders scratched out a new existence on the prairie. William, an adventurer from New Zealand, brings his bride to the freshly broken earth of his farm near Watrous, Saskatchewan. Violet, the child born ‘feebleminded,’ plunges her mother Louise—a woman burdened with a secret—back to a time of guilt and regret. The child draws out goodness and loyalty in her neighbours, Hank and Emily. But tragedy upends this family, taking the reader at breakneck speed toward forgiveness and the realization that no one is infallible.
Readers of Karin Melberg Schwier’s most recent non-fiction, Flourish: People with Disabilities Living Life with Passion, and her numerous other works, will love her first novel. Two printings of the first edition (Burton House Books) are sold out, so the author has released a revised edition – same compelling story, new cover.
Winner of the 2019 John V. Hicks Long Manuscript Award for Fiction
Alice Kuipers –
With beautiful writing that will resonate with readers who know these prairie skies, but also with readers who long to explore this country of ours, this nuanced and powerful book is a stunning exploration of love, disability, family and loss. Alice Kuipers
Judges Elisabeth de Mariaffi and Rabindranath Maharaj –
…“intricately-told, historical novel (with) modern connotations broaching our current conversation around trauma, consent, and sexual assault… Scenes
linger, resonate in the mind.” -Judges Elisabeth de Mariaffi and
Anne Simpson –
Small Reckonings is a graceful, poignant debut novel, with the strong
character of Violet at its heart. Considered vulnerable by her
community, she turns out to be feisty and courageous. Her story, and
that of her family, unfolds against the sweep of prairie with compelling
power. Karin Melberg Schwier has given us a novel to treasure.
Shelley Leedahl –
“Characters in this Watrous, SK-based historical novel – set between 1914 and 1936 – are exquisitely and sympathetically drawn, the plot moves, and the portrait of this small town and its multi-ethnic pioneers rings true and clears as windchimes in a prairie breeze…
This story “succeeds so well because the writer’s learned the tricky art
of literary balance. As skilled as she is at penning descriptive scenes,
they never slow the pacing of this taut novel. The book’s structure is
nuanced, and seemingly minor details – like a fishhook caught in an eye
– have resonance. The characters are people we know…”
– Shelley Leedahl