For more than a half century, Father Damien Modeste has served his beloved Native American tribe, the Ojibwe, on the remote reservation of Little No Horse. Now, nearing the end of his life, Father Damien dreads the discovery of his physical identity, for he is a woman who has lived as a man.
To further complicate his quiet existence, a troubled colleague comes to the reservation to investigate the life of the perplexing, possibly false saint Sister Leopolda. Father Damien alone knows the strange truth of Leopolda’s piety, but these facts are bound up in his own secret. He is faced with the most difficult decision: Should he tell all and risk everything… or manufacture a protective history for Leopolda, though he believes her wonder-working is motivated solely by evil?
My friend and I picked this book out for our Seattle Public Library Adult Summer Book Bingo cards, which required a book written by a past or present Seattle Arts & Lectures speaker. It’s not really the genre of book either of us would typically pick up (leaning more towards the YA, mystery, fantasy, and sci-fi camps), so we were both glad that SPL Book Bingo forced us to go outside our bubbles and read this wonderful book. I especially recommend this book to anyone who enjoys complicated characters, beautiful and intimate imagery, drifting narratives not overly concerned with chronology, and a plethora of moments that are just as sad as they are hilarious.
Discussion questions below the cut!