The High Divide

Written by Lin Enger
Review by Jeff Westerhoff

In September 1886, the Pope family is living in the small town of Sloan’s Crossing, Minnesota. One day the father, Ulysses, leaves home without notifying his family about his destination. He heads west towards Montana territory. Then one night soon after he leaves, his young sons, Eli and Danny, take off after him to discover his whereabouts and to find out why he abandoned them. They leave their mother, Greta, at home alone to deal with bill collectors and a lecherous landlord, who is only too grateful to help in her plight, if only she would consider moving in with him. Desperate, Greta also heads west to find her lost family and discover the reason behind her husband’s mysterious disappearance. Will the truth drive them further apart?

Be prepared to become immersed in this family’s epic journey. Enger does a masterful job telling their story. I felt sympathetic toward his wife and two young children with the dilemma they faced, yet I also tried to understand the sanity of Ulysses’s need to conquer his demons, which kept him from living a normal life. This is historical fiction writing at its best. Books like this are why I read and become immersed in the lives of past generations. I look forward to reading other books the author may write in the future; he has clear knowledge of the social customs and the history of late 19th-century America.