Left with her white grandparents, a biracial girl deals with abandonment in a 1970s rural Wisconsin town that doesn’t easily accept change.
Michelle LeBeau, the child of a white American father and a Japanese mother, lives with her grandparents in Deerhorn, Wisconsin—a small town that had been entirely white before her arrival. Rejected and bullied, Michelle spends her time reading, avoiding fights, and roaming the countryside with her dog Brett. She idolizes her grandfather, Charlie LeBeau, an expert hunter and former minor league baseball player who is one of the town’s most respected men. Charlie strongly disapproves of his son’s marriage to Michelle’s mother but dotes on his only grandchild.
This fragile peace is threatened when the expansion of the local clinic leads to the arrival of the Garretts, a young Black couple from Chicago. The Garretts’ presence deeply upsets most of the residents of Deerhorn—when Mr. Garrett makes a controversial accusation against one of the town leaders, who is also Charlie LeBeau’s best friend.
In the tradition of To Kill a Mockingbird, A River Runs Through It, and Snow Falling on Cedars, Revoyr’s new novel examines the effects of change on a small, isolated town, the strengths and limits of community, and the sometimes-conflicting loyalties of family and justice. Set in the expansive countryside of Central Wisconsin, against the backdrop of Vietnam and the post-civil rights era, Wingshooters explores both connection and loss as well as the complex but enduring bonds of family.
Praise for Wingshooters
“A searing, anguished novel about racial bigotry in a small, insulated Wisconsin town named Deerhorn, where people who were born there tend not to leave . . . . The narration and pace of this novel are expertly calibrated as it explores a topic one wishes still wasn’t so current.” —Los Angeles Times
“Gripping and insightful.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Remarkable . . . [an] accomplished story of family and the dangers of complacency in the face of questionable justice.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Revoyr writes rhapsodically of . . . the natural world and charts, with rising intensity, her resilient narrator’s painful awakening to human failings and senseless violence . . . . Revoyr drives to the very heart of tragic ignorance, unreason, and savagery.” —Booklist (starred review)
“Nina Revoyr is one of my favorite writers . . . Wingshooters is a gem of a novel—filled with beautiful language, thoughtful observations on life, deep heartache, and determined acceptance.” —Lisa See, author of Shanghai Girls
Small towns are perhaps not famous for readily accepting outsiders, a lesson Michelle LeBeau, the protagonist of Revoyr's keen new novel, learns firsthand. Ten-year-old Michelle is the child of a Japanese mother who abandoned her husband and daughter and a father who was too busy chasing dreams to raise his daughter. Upon her arrival in 1973 Deerhorn, Wis., where she is to live with her grandparents, she becomes the first nonwhite in town, and thus a convenient target for taunting and bullying. Luckily, she has as adoring grand-father, Charlie LeBeau, and grandmother to sustain her and provide a firm family foundation. But when a young black couple, the Garretts, move to town she a nurse, he a teacher the town's sizable population of bigots make it clear the Garretts aren't welcome, the resentment peaking with a cascade of tragedies that have a big impact on Michelle's life. "The hardest thing about suffering a terrible loss is that you usually survive it," Michelle says, and Revoyr does a remarkable job of conveying Michelle's lost innocence and fear throughout this accomplished story of family and the dangers of complacency in the face of questionable justice. \n