LET HIM GO by Larry Watson

Book Quote:

“She says nothing but stares hard at her husband. She presses a palm to her jaw, though any attempt to stop the vibration is useless. Put it back, George. Put it back. And then you stay. You’ve got no heart for any of this, anyway.

He takes a deep breath, exhales, then tilts his head back and breathes again as though the oxygen he needs were at a height he can’t quite reach. Closed up like this the house can’t take in the sun’s heat, and whiskey won’t help with the chill of an empty house. George refolds the towel, then picks up the bundle.

I’ll pack the tent, he says. Mildew smell and all.”

Book Review:

Review by Jill I. Shultman  (DEC 31, 2013)

The simple plotting of Larry Watson’s Let Him Go – the quest of Margaret and George Blackridge to reclaim their young grandson, who lives with his mother and rotten-to-the-core stepfather – belies the strong emotional impact of this exquisitely powerful book.

The power sneaks up on the reader when it is least expected – in a snatch of dialogue, a perceptive insight, a small detail that turns everything around. Larry Watson is a master of breathing life into his characters through ordinary conversations and actions that hint at extraordinary revelations that bubble right beneath the surface.

The story takes place in Dalton, North Dakota in 1951 in what some people refer to as the “real America” – a place where people don’t waste words, where hard work and straight talk is respected, and where the people and the land are reliant on each other. Their grown son met with tragedy, and Margaret prevails upon her taciturn husband to travel to Gladstone, Montana to find his namesake Jimmy…a boy who has been caught in the web of his stepfather’s violent Weboy family.

Larry Watson walks a delicate tightrope; what he doesn’t reveal is every bit as meaningful as what he describes. Is the long and tender marriage of Margaret and George more complex than it appears? What were they like as parents to their twins – James, who is now dead, and Janie, who is estranged from them? Does raising Jimmy give them the right to another chance?

Along the way, there are brutal surprises and heartbreaks and words so true they cause the reader to gasp at their validity. Take this, for example: “A four-year-old has so little past, and he remembers almost none of it, neither the father he once had nor the house where he once lived. But he can feel the absences – and feel them as sensation, like a texture that was once at his fingers every day but now is gone and no matter how he gropes or reaches his hand he cannot touch what’s no longer there.”

At the end of the day, Let Him Go is about what’s worth fighting for and what’s worth sacrificing for along this rocky road of life. Gutsy, authentic, and downright riveting, it’s a book that succeeds at blurring that thin barrier between fiction and the outside world. Quite simply, it’s hard to believe that these characters are anything but 100% real.

AMAZON READER RATING: from 31 readers
PUBLISHER: Milkweed Editions (September 3, 2013)
REVIEWER: Jill I. Shultman
EXTRAS: Book Trailer with excerpt
MORE ON MOSTLYFICTION: Read our review of:


*Justice is a prequel to Montana 1948

December 31, 2013 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: 2013 Favorites, Character Driven, Contemporary, End-of-Life, Literary, Wild West

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.