Monday, July 21, 2014

Book review: Evergreen, by Rebecca Rasmussen

Rasmussen has been steadily crafting a unique brand of midwestern literature that combines offbeat characters and timeless rhythms reminiscent of folk tales with touching story lines about the pain and hard-won joys of real life. As with her debut, The Bird Sisters (2011), in her new book, she shows her strong affection for the picturesque rural settings of yesteryear.

In 1938, Eveline Sturm joins her German-born husband, Emil, in the northern Minnesota backwoods. Their isolated cabin is beyond rustic, and her only reading material is Emil’s taxidermy manuals, yet she decides to remain alone with their baby son, Hux, when Emil returns to Germany to care for his father. Years later, Eveline’s daughter, Naamah, the product of a traumatic rape, grows up amid cruelty in a Catholic orphanage.

After reuniting with his half sister as an adult, Hux tries to help the beautiful, damaged Naamah recapture her lost childhood. In this character-driven saga of friendship and the thorny bonds of family, Rasmussen writes with wisdom and compassion about the people and places that shape us, for better and worse.

Evergreen was published on July 15th by Knopf in hardcover ($25.95, 352pp).  This review first appeared in Booklist's May 1st issue. If you haven't already read The Bird Sisters, I recommend it as well; both it and Evergreen are great choices for book clubs.


  1. This sounds like a great book for discussion. I've added it to my list!

    1. There are a lot of things to discuss about the book - the family dynamics, the setting, how past traumas affect how we act. I hope you'll enjoy the novel too!