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Tuesday, 21 January 2014  |  Posted by Brenda Drake

MENTOR: Heather Webb

MENTEE: A. R. Shenandoah


CATEGORY/GENRE: Upmarket Women’s/Historical

WORD COUNT: 95,000



When Alma’s childhood friend—an Ojibwe Indian—is charged with the murder of a white man, she must challenge the policy of forced assimilation to prove his innocence. But this means confronting the memory of a lover hanged for the color of his skin, and the secrets that may destroy her marriage.



Alma’s teacup slipped from her fingers. It crashed down upon its matching saucer, sending shards of hand-painted porcelain across the table. Milky-brown tea bled into the tablecloth. The resulting clamor registered somewhere at the periphery of her mind. Yet even as the hot liquid dripped down onto the napkin in her lap, Alma’s eyes stayed fixed on the newsprint clutched in her hand. 


She read the headline again, and then scanned the article beneath. Midway through the column, her entire body went numb. The black typeface blurred then contracted back into focus.

Sunlight trespassed on the dining room through the chiffon-shrouded windows. She held the paper up to the light and read it twice, three times, as if the small inky words might change upon closer inspection.

That name. She knew it as well as her own. Could the journalist have gotten it wrong? She shook her head and rifled through the rest of the paper. The editor had spared a mere fifteen lines for the article, tucking it into the bottom right corner of the ninth page between a notice of the state troopers parade and an advertisement for derby hats. Surely some other column covered the incident in more detail.

If the writer had used the subject’s real name, his Indian name, the name she had breathed a million times, then she would know for sure.

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