-- Silver Medal Award, 2020 May Sarton Award for Contemporary Fiction --
Beth cherished her family’s summers on an pristine northern Canadian lake, where she reveled in the sweet smell of dew on early morning hikes, the loons’ evening trills across the lake’s many bays, every brush stroke of her brother's paintings celebrating their cherished place, and their grandfather's laughter as he welcomed neighbors to their annual Welsh harvest celebration. Theirs was an unshakeable bond with family, friends and nature, renewed every summer on their island of granite and pines.
But that bond was threatened and then torn apart, first as rights to their island were questioned and then by nature itself, and the family is forced to leave. Beth creates a new life in urban Chicago, where she erects a solid barrier between the past and present, no matter how much it costs—until her grandfather asks her to return to the island to determine its fate. Will she choose to preserve who she has become or risk everything to discover if what was lost, still remains?
The Best Part of Us will immerse readers in a breathtaking natural world, a fresh perspective on loyalty, and an exquisite ode to the essential roles that family, nature and place hold in all of our lives.
PRAISE FOR THE BEST PART OF US:
"The novel is informed by both Ojibwe and Welsh traditions and shows sensitivity regarding cultural differences. It also honors the natural world with dazzling imagery...
A dramatic, rewarding story about a woman reconnecting with family, nature, and herself."
“Readers... won't be able to resist the pull of this remarkable novel.. The plot spanning past and present kept me enthralled and engaged throughout my reading of the exceptionally good book. The Best Part of Us is most highly recommended."
Readers' Favorite Five-Star review
"With exquisite descriptions of Canadian lake and forest country and the Ojibway life rooted there, Cole-Misch expertly weaves the elements of those differing cultures, fraught but tightly bound family relationships, young love, old love, and the wonder of coming of age - at every age - into a luminous novel. The Best Part of Us is a beautiful story that will keep you up reading, and then keep you company for a long time afterward.”
Barbara Stark-Nemon, award-winning author of Even in Darkness and Hard Cider
"The Best Part of Us is one of the most compelling novels I've read about the relationship between the human heart and the natural world. This is not just storytelling, it's a lived experience. At a time when we seem to have lost our way, Sally provides a true compass to help us find home."
Dave Dempsey, 2009 Michigan Author of the Year, author of ten books, and Great Lakes policy expert
“A story so evocative you can smell the lake and hear the loons.The Best Part of Us draws in lyrical strokes the many shades of grief and the healing magic of place.”
Jenni Ogden, bestselling author of A Drop in the Ocean
“Sally writes some of the most breathtaking descriptions of the natural world I’ve had the pleasure to read. It speaks to Sally’s fine fiction instincts that trouble comes in the form of the family’s attachment to this land and issues around who rightfully owns it—their Welsh ancestors or the Native peoples of earlier times—and the book raises and explores these important, contemporary questions with care and sensitivity. Their resolution is complicated—at once hopeful and messy, like all imperfect decisions. The Best Part of Us is a lovely, engrossing book about place, family, history, and cultural sensitivity.”
Angela Pneuman, award-winning author of Home Remedies and Lay It on My Heart
"The Best Part of Us by Sally Cole-Misch is a lush debut novel which explores nature, family, and land with nuance and patience. What hooked me first in this novel was the utter lusciousness of the prose. The natural world is described so expertly and fully, that I had no trouble immersing myself in a landscape with which I was unfamiliar...Another aspect of The Best Part of Us that struck a chord was its exploration of the complexity of family dynamics... Even characters I found myself disagreeing with, like Taid, were given full three dimensions and humanity, helping readers to understand these characters as people and not caricatures...The Best Part of Us was a beautiful love letter to the natural world and to human connection."
"The Best Part of Us is a powerful novel about family dynamics and the human need to be true to one's inner self... Cole-Misch draws her characters with a fine paintbrush, adding layer upon layer until each character is fully realized and integrating them into a timeframe that spans the past and present. One of the strongest aspects of this novel is its sense of place. The descriptions of the land and water of the lake are dazzling."
Midwest Book Review
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