Review of Harbored Secrets by Karen Wills Cunningham.

Like many western states, Montana is sprinkled with long abandoned farmers’ shacks or the foundations that are the only signs they ever existed. One always wonders about the original owners. Some succeeded and some had to leave. It’s hard to know whose sacrifices were greater. All have human histories. Marie Martin has created a complex character in Blinny Platt from childhood through late adulthood. She is brave,but confounded by circumstances created by others that confound her efforts to give and receive love. Above all, she is brave, compassionate, and finely tuned to the natural world of the prairie.
Blinny is also a child forced to grow up too fast by parents whose own demons confound their own lives. A tragedy on her eighth birthday leads to Blinny’s family life of guilt, impenetrable secrets, and elusive love. She is sustained by a few caring people and her sense of belonging to the land. She never gives up trying to understand herself and others, always yearning for reconciliation and peace.
This novel is an unexpectedly deep exploration and a unique take on early twentieth century farm life. It’s Marie Martin’s best work so far, heartbreaking and inspiring.


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