Pioneer Press: Sarah Stonich revisits ‘Vacationland’ characters in latest novel about northern Minnesota

By Mary Ann Grossmann
Pioneer Press

Laurentian Divide (Sarah Stonich)As Stonich’s touching and sometimes funny story begins, spring is coming late after “a doozy of a winter.” The town is still grieving for two young women who died in an accident, and nobody has seen Rauri Paar, who lives all winter on an iced-in island where he creates expensive chandeliers and wall sconces from antlers and animal bones. Spring isn’t official until Parr arrives, but this year he’s a no-show. There’s lots of speculation about whether he died alone out there, but nobody’s eager to make the portage-filled trip to find out. Widower Alpo (“like the dog food”) Lahti is going to marry lively, caring and younger Sissy Pavola. Alpo’s veterinarian son, Pete, is struggling with alcohol relapse after his wife threw him out of the house. No spoiler here, but the last scenes in which Sissy walks the town in her wedding dress are heart-tugging.


Like all good writers, Stonich brings a vivid sense of place to her story, based on her years living in Duluth and beyond. She envisions Hatchet Inlet as about the size of Ely, which she calls “a typical Iron Range town.”


Full interview.

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