Because my tbr list is long--stretched end to end, the books would no doubt reach to the moon and back, it took me until this month to actually crack the cover. I'm very glad I did.
I read a lot, on average of at least a book a week. Quite a few of the books I read are thoroughly enjoyable, I wouldn't be reading if they weren't. But only a few make me want to thrust the book into a friend's hands while saying"Read this. You must read this book." Etta and Otto and Russell and James is one of those few.
The story, infused with magic where the lines between what is real and what is imagined are perfectly blended, begins with the note eighty three year old Etta has left behind for her husband, Otto: "I've gone. I've never seen the water, so I've gone there. I've left you the truck. I can walk. I will try to remember to come home."
And so begins a journey from Saskatchewan to New Brunswick that is part actual. part imaginary, part magical, and most memorable. Etta walks through time as well as space, as the story wanders back to the beginnings of Otto's lifelong friendship with Russell, to the young romance between Etta and Otto, to Otto's experiences as a soldier in the second world war, to Russell, crippled in an accident that keeps him from the fight, and his growing love of Etta.
There is magic in these words. Scenes stay with you, sweet as the icing on Etta's cinnamon rolls, compelling as the empty prairie with wind whistling through it. Reminiscent of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Love in the Time of Cholera or Laura Esquivel's Like Water for Chocolate, Etta and Otto and Russell and James is a book that captures the imagination and sends it soaring.
Beautiful words woven into poignant sweetness with a hint of nostalgia, a story laced with magic, I am pressing this book into your hands, dear reader. Read this. You must read this book.