Heart Spring Mountain, Robin MacArthur, 2018

MacArthur’s first novel returns to rural southeastern Vermont, the territory she covered in her short story volume Half Wild.  Once again, the world is a tough place—-lousy weather, bad housing and food, drugs, tattoos, unemployment, alcohol, adultery, sickness.  And, once again, MacArthur shows us characters struggling for dignity, meaning, and love, in this case in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene.  By juggling a dozen main characters and jumping back and forth from the 1970’s of VietNam and hippy communes to 2011 of the Iraq War, the opioid epidemic, and climate change, she creates a three dimensional jig saw puzzle for the reader. The work involved in putting it all together is worthwhile as one develops a respect and liking for the struggling young people who return to Nelson, VT because of their deep attachment to the land and family.  Not a fun read, but an important one as MacArthur begins to develop her own counterpart to Faulkner’s Y. county.