“A beautifully rendered and cinematic portrait of a place and its evolution through time . . . A story of survival and the love and devotion between parent and child.”
—Jill McCorkle, author of Hieroglyphics
Dave Cartwright used to be good at a lot of things: good with his hands, good at solving problems, good at staying calm in a crisis. But on the heels of his third tour in Iraq, the fabric of Dave’s life has begun to unravel. Gripped by PTSD, he finds himself losing his home, his wife, his direction. Most days, his love for his seven-year-old daughter, Bella, is the only thing keeping him going. When tragedy strikes, Dave makes a dramatic decision: the two of them will flee their damaged lives, heading off the grid to live in the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest.
As they carve out a home in a cave in that harsh, breathtaking landscape, echoes of its past begin to reach them. Bella retreats into herself, absorbed by visions of a mother and son who lived in the cave thousands of years earlier, at the end of the last ice age. Back in town, Dave and Bella themselves are rapidly becoming the stuff of legend—to all but those who would force them to return home.
As winter sweeps toward the North Cascades, past and present intertwine into a timeless odyssey. Poignant and profound, Legends of the North Cascades brings Jonathan Evison’s trademark vibrant, honest voice to bear on an expansive story that is at once a meditation on the perils of isolation and an exploration of the ways that connection can save us.
Evison (Lawn Boy) delivers an intimate if uneven story of grief and parenthood with characters from two distant millennia. After onetime football hero Dave Cartwright returns to Vigilante Falls, Wash., from his third and worst tour in Iraq with the Marines, he struggles to reacquaint himself with civic and domestic life. The sudden death of his wife, Nadene, makes Dave ever more disillusioned, prompting him to uproot his seven-year-old daughter, Bella, to a cave in the Cascades. As days stretch to weeks and months and winter closes in, Bella starts having visions of the Paleolithic people who once populated the area. Chapters about an Ice Age mother and child alternate with Dave and Bella's increasingly perilous situation and with gossip about Dave conveyed through interstitial monologues from various folks back home. The parallel narratives of familial trust and parent-child conflicts among the ancient people and between Dave and Bella develop effectively in tandem, though the idea of some kind of psychic connection between this young girl and her Ice Age predecessors feels strained. Moreover, Evison's judgmental modern-day townspeople are unbelievably openhearted and endlessly forgiving, even after Dave's actions endanger Bella and others. Despite its faults, Evison's empathetic vision offers much to consider about the limits of parental authority and the capacity for both physical and emotional survival. \n