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Opening in the summer of 1847, this story follows an Ojibwe family through four seasons; it focuses on young Omakayas, who turns “eight winters old” during the course of the novel. In nearly step-by-step details, the story describes how they build a summer home out of birchbark, gather with extended family to harvest rice in the autumn, treat an attack of smallpox during the winter, and make maple syrup in the spring to stock their own larder and to sell to others.
Like its predecessor The Birchbark House, this long-awaited sequel is framed by catastrophe, but the core of the story, which is set in 1850, is white settlers’ threats to the traditional Ojibwe way of life. Omakayas is now nine and living at her beautiful island home in Lake Superior. But whites want Ojibwe off the island: Where will they go? In addition to an abundance of details about life through the seasons, Erdrich deals with the wider meaning of family and Omakayas’ coming-of-age on a vision quest. — Booklist