Unmoored

unmoored by Jeri Parker
Available in paperback, $15.00

 The Book

Carving from memory the ground she will stand on, Rennie England returns to the family home in Idaho in time to see her father’s body being carried out his fire-blackened bedroom window. Her journey to find out what happened will take her to his bedroom, to a candle in the room and a key in the lock, to other rooms where people fell in love, where people died. As she asks who was locked in and who was locked out, she hears in a new way the voices of her life— the father who hangs his twins, but not by the neck; the grandmother, whose light comes with cinnamon and salt; Thelma Myzeld, confidante, who knows Montana needs more smokers; the deaf boy who teaches her to hear; the lover, who is the one right thing and out of reach even before he is assassinated.

Rennie finds healing when she revisits her grandparents’ sawmill cabin in the Centennial Mountains, its paths strewn with the light of morning, the shadow of dusk, the scent of alpine daisies and Douglas fir, of grass and mint and brook. She is learning   what we get to keep and what we don’t get to keep, what we want to know and what we can’t let ourselves know, what we love and what we unwittingly betray.

Praise for UNMOORED

Salt Lake City author Jeri Parker knows well the vast beauty of the American West, not least the North Fork of the Snake River. She also writes beautifully—and unsentimentally—about the traumas in Rennie’s life. Parker’s description of the ruinous Teton Dam Flood of 1976 is spare and harrowing, and she perfectly captures the morning-after shock of the fatal fire: “This isn’t how we lived—what’s on this lawn, this blackened house. We got up each morning, loved each other, more or less, kept clean like other people. We drank from glasses, forks on the left. We washed the Buick once a week, cared for a garden . . .”

Of such tense verbal precision and depth of feeling is this enthralling family saga made. — BlueInk Review , Starred Review July 2015 

Jeri Parker’s Voice, like the Snake River Idaho landscape it was born to and raises out of is at once rugged and still. It lifts up in praise, drifts down in delicious secrecy. This is a writer whose voice can have a fierce and a gentle beauty. Read her. — David Kranes,  Making the Ghost Dance

Jeri Parker knows how to maintain a sense of patience and wonder.—Kirkus Interview,March 2014

An impressive, evocative memory piece. —Kirkus Reviews

I felt what it is to be grownup when I was reading Unmoored,  and it taught me about what I hadn’t understood of the world I’d grown up in. The experience was so vivid that I felt I was not just reading it but was actually in it. There were a few moments when I was so involved, I had to put it down.  As intense as it was, Unmoored was never maudlin and it so easily could have been. A lessor writer would have slid into sentimentality.

One of the many pleasures in reading Unmoored is that there is considerable mystery involved. It has the complexity and the ambiguity, the untidiness, of life. You are left to wonder how the father died in the fire in his bedroom. It could have been an accident,  you tell yourself, and later you wonder if it was a suicide. The possibility that it was a murder also lurks in your mind as you turn the facets of the book in the light shed by the various bits of information that continue to accrue.

Unmoored is so beautiful and so intelligent, it’s almost primordial. All the way through you’re aware it’s been written by a very intelligent person. You feel you can relax and trust that the writer can do the high notes. Indeed she could.

My feeling at the end of the book was is this author working on another book? Will there be more? I also felt envy all the way through at her art with words. Envy is perhaps not exactly the word—not a raw, coveting envy but a feeling of exultation that someone had been so good at making the world of Unmoored. Francine Timothy