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Land That Moves, Land That Stands Still
by Kent Nelson

Category: Fiction / General
357 pages; ISBN: 0-670-03226-3

Rating: 9/10  (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Coletta Ollerer


Recently widowed Mattie Remmel decides to continue working the farm in South Dakota after her husband’s accidental death. She needs a handyman and hires Dawn, an attractive young woman and former GI, who is looking for a new start. When first approached by Dawn, Mattie saw that “she was slender, and as tall as the deer fence, and dressed in jeans with holes in the knees and a blue work shirt. Her blond hair was tied up carelessly behind her head.” (p63) Mattie’s daughter Shelly, a college student, is on the farm for the summer. She is not sure if she wants to remain on the land and help her mother or if she should finish her education. These three are joined by a 14 year old runaway Native American boy whom Mattie takes under her wing.

Mattie discovers a secret her husband, Haney, had kept from her and is haunted by its implications. “Mattie looked up into the cottonwood tree where light scattered among the leaves. She felt nothing, then surges of anger and hurt, then nothing again for a long time.” (104)

Unbeknownst to Mattie, before his death Haney had contacted a local Museum with regard to a sink hole he discovered on the property. Haney felt it might contain some worthwhile items. Lee Coulter from the museum comes to investigate. Mattie wants him to go away.

Dawn’s past includes a boyfriend, Styver, who has worked up an active dislike for her and comes looking for her. Elton, the Native American boy, sets himself up as Dawn’s protector.

The Pollards, a neighboring man and his grown son, pose a threat to the four in that they are boorish, dangerous and tending to thievery. Mattie struggles to deal with them and is sure they have been diverting her water to their fields. Shelly has had a run in with the son and both man and son have attempted to assault Dawn. Hector interrupted their efforts.

Hector, a Mexican and therefore an outcast in South Dakota, has managed through hard work and enterprise to acquire land on which he farms and raises livestock. He works for the local phone company to augment his income. Mattie and family are the few who accept him and include him in their lives.

This is a story of ordinary people struggling with the problems life throws at them. They come to love and appreciate each other even as they squabble. Each is heartened by the courage and strength of the other. The reader will appreciate and enjoy this opportunity to peek into their lives.


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