Patricia leaves her husband after catching him having an affair with a friend's wife. She takes sons Brett, age ten, and Zach age seven, and goes to Lapwai, Idaho to take a position as a public health nurse.
In her position as a nurse and a healer, she seems to win an immediate respect and acceptance from the American Indians that she visits. We observe her interactions with an elderly woman named Sally who lived in such poverty that she didn't even have a refrigerator or pots and pans. Even though her situation seems dire, Sally is a happy woman and finds time to have fun with Patricia. Patricia's first step in helping this unfortunate woman was persuading Sally's to accept a flu shot. After that, Patricia managed to find Sally a better place to live in a Senior Housing apartment.
Patricia narrates the story and makes us aware of the health issues facing these American Indians living on a reservation. She deals with obesity existing on an epidemic level causing an extraordinary number of amputations. In this regard, Patricia attempts to make people aware of the signs such as the loss of sensation in the feet.
She meets a man, has trouble with her children and continues to minister to the sick and elderly while reminiscing about past events in her life.
This is an entertaining view of Patricia's observations as she goes through her life as a person tending to her patients and exposing a part of life in the American west. The novel was written as things took place in Patricia's memory and is somewhat experimental as memory does not always tell stories in sequence. In my opinion, fans of Louise Erdrich's novels will enjoy this book.
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