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West of Here

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West of Here

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Product Review (submitted on May 4, 2011):

West of Here is a huge, sweeping novel covering so much time and so many different stories that it is impossible not to get swept up in the town of Port Bonita. The story begins in 1889 when Port Bonita is a small, struggling outpost of settlers and indians. Ethan Thornburgh arrives having followed his runaway sweetheart and decides that a dam, blocking up the mighty Elwha for electricity and modern conveniences, will put Port Bonita, and himself, on the map. Contrasting that is present day where the town is now realizing the extent of environmental damage done by the giant dam. Craving a fresh start the town contemplates tearing it down. Woven throughout these main threads are the stories of prostitutes, paroled criminals, three different mothers trying to do the best for their very different children, loners, explorers, and politicians. Washington's rugged and magnificent Olympic Penninsula forms the dramatic backdrop for all these stories.

Once I stopped trying to keep straight all the different story lines and just allowed myself to inhabit the town of Port Bonita I really enjoyed the book. It was fascinating to follow the thread of how an action in 1889 could have a profound impact on the life of someone on 2006. While there are no fairy tale endings here, the author does an impressive job of wrapping together the many stories and creating a coherent ending. The book feels like one long adventure set in the last era of taming the wild west.

I listened to West of Here on audio, narrated by Edoardo Ballerini. It must have been a challenging book to read with all the voices to portray and he does an admirable job. He always seemed to capture the spirit of the time and kept the story flowing. This was an excellent audiobook for passing many long days!