The Sentence by Louise Erdrich

Published: 2021 1. First lines 2. Cover: Harper Collins 3. I Can’t Breathe by Harri Aderhold [Public Domain] via Flickr 4. Mask [Public Domain] via Pixnio

Set in Minneapolis, and told over a period of one year, this is the story of Tookie who works in a bookstore that is haunted by Flora, a customer who dies and continues to make her presence felt. Tookie has just been released from a long jail sentence, and against the background of racial violence and the COVID pandemic, she tries to understand Flora’s haunting, and make a new life for herself.

I need a word, a sentence. The door is open. Go.” 

BOOK SNAPS: Like NPR, I found this to be “an absorbing and unquiet novel.” Because it is set in the time of the COVID pandemic, and other unsettling world events, The Sentence “offers profound insights into the effects of the global pandemic and the collateral damage of systemic racism”. (Publishers Weekly), although I don’t agree that it is a “gripping ghost story” (Publishers Weekly). To me, the symbolism was too obscure.


“… it’s grandma food, ‘bad for the arteries but good for the heart.”

A newborn baby has a powerful effect on character. But so does a toddler. A child. A preteen. A teenager. A mother changes with every stage. Some stages are within a mother’s skill set. Some stages are like being told to scale a cliff using a rope attached to nothing.”

“I worked hard, kept things tidy, curtailed my inner noise, stayed steady. And still, trouble found where I lived and tracked me down.”

Author: Louise Erdrich

Awards: Women’s Prize for Fiction Nominee for Fiction for Longlist (2022), Andrew Carnegie Medal Nominee for Fiction (2022)

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