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Laurentian Divide

A Novel


Sarah Stonich

Laurentian Divide

Poignant portrayals of life on the edge in northern Minnesota border country, from the best-selling author of These Granite Islands and Vacationland

Returning to the northern Minnesota town of Hatchet Inlet, Laurentian Divide picks up the story where Vacationland left off. Sarah Stonich weaves the past and present lives of a retired union miner, his cherished and surprising bride, and his troubled son as they navigate their next chapters and question what is ours to control or own.

Hilarious, smart, moving and kind, Laurentian Divide is good for the soul, or anyway, it was good for mine.

Richard Russo

Bitter winters are nothing new in Hatchet Inlet, hard up against the ridge of the Laurentian Divide, but the advent of spring can’t thaw the community’s collective grief, lingering since a senseless tragedy the previous fall. What is different this year is what’s missing: Rauri Paar, the last private landowner in the Reserve, whose annual emergence from his remote iced-in islands marks the beginning of spring and the promise of a kinder season.

In the second volume of her Northern Trilogy, Sarah Stonich reassembles characters that endeared Vacationland to so many readers: retired union miner and widower Alpo Lahti is about to wed his charming and lively bride, Sissy Pavola, but, with Rauri unaccounted for, celebration seems premature. Alpo’s son Pete struggles to find his straight and narrow, then struggles to stay on it, and even Sissy might be having second thoughts.

Weaving in and out of each other’s reach, trying hard to do their best (all the while wondering what that might be), Stonich’s characters in all their sweetness and sorrow remind us once more of the inescapable lurches of the heart and unexpected turns of our human comedy.

Laurentian Divide

Sarah Stonich is the best-selling author of These Granite Islands (Minnesota, 2013), which has been translated into seven languages and shortlisted for France’s Grand Prix des Lectrices de Elle; the critically acclaimed novel The Ice Chorus; and a memoir, Shelter: Off the Grid in the Mostly Magnetic North (Minnesota, 2017). Her novel-in-stories, Vacationland (Minnesota, 2013), is the first volume in her Northern Trilogy, followed by Laurentian Divide. She has written the novels Fishing with RayAnne and Reeling under the pen name Ava Finch. The founder of, she lives on the Mississippi River in Minneapolis.

Laurentian Divide

Hilarious, smart, moving and kind, Laurentian Divide is good for the soul, or anyway, it was good for mine.

Richard Russo

There aren’t many writers on the planet who can take a reader’s heart apart and put it back together again with the sureness of Sarah Stonich, who does exactly that over and over again in Laurentian Divide, her best yet. Funny and wise in equal measure, here’s a novel for everyone. What a treasure.

Peter Geye, author of Wintering

With seamless grace, Sarah Stonich has again woven the towering majesty of Minnesota's Arrowhead Country with the endearing miscellany of its denizens, creating a tapestry both elegant and earthy. Here, reader, are joy and artistry.

Faith Sullivan, author of Good Night, Mr. Wodehouse

Laurentian Divide is rich, funny, and overflowing with life—Sarah Stonich at the top of her powers.

Will Weaver, author of Sweet Land

With a nimble hand and wry voice, Sarah Stonich pilots this generous tale—incisive, musical, and spiced with pungent observation so that Laurentian Divide becomes the best sort of trip.

Leif Enger, author of Peace Like a River and Virgil Wander

It was a pleasure to spend time with these characters again and see the family they have created within their community. Sarah Stonich’s beautiful prose, sly humor, and obvious fondness for her subject matter make Laurentian Divide a must-read.

Pamela Klinger-Horn, Excelsior Bay Books