Editor's note: Reviews of this year's High Plains Book Award winners are below. Reviews will be added weekly in September.
The High Plains Book Awards recognizes regional literary works that examine and reflect life on the High Plains, including the states of Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado and Kansas, and the Canadian provinces of Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
Content is provided by independent reviewers in conjunction with the 2021 High Plains Book Awards. Books may be purchased at This House of Books, 224 N Broadway.
In lieu of an in-person award ceremony, the winners will be announced on highplainsbookawards.org and in The Gazette.
Barbara Lynn-Vannoy's “The 10 Greatest Gifts We Give Each Other” creates an emotional journey that showcases the ways in which the vows written by the Vanoys become a force for good for themselves, family, friends and acquaintances.
In “Black Water,” David A. Robertson tells a multi-layered story of what it means to be Cree, from Canada’s brutal cultural erasure and the resulting racism to his father’s stories of deep connection to the land.
The book is illustrated with Theodore Waddell’s iconic impressionistic artwork, drawn from Waddell’s 30 years of running cattle in central Montana.
At age 54, Lisa rode her horse, Chief, 500 miles from Kansas City to Vernon County, Missouri. It is a journey as much about her past as well as a test of her strength and stamina at middle age.
Bertrand Bickersteth’s “The Response of Weeds: A Misplacement of Black Poetry on the Prairies,” a finalist for the High Plains Book Award for First Book, brims with knowledge, beauty, and wisdom.
David Heska Wanbl Weiden’s debut novel “Winter Counts” is a high-spirited and haunting novel that traverses the challenging modern-day landscape of the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota.
“Roadside Geology of Montana” is a complete revision of the 1972 Roadside Geology of the Northern Rockies by David Alt and Donald Hyndman.
In her book of poetry, “Ghosts Still Linger,” Kat Cameron challenges the reader with an inventive illustration of how the ideology of ghosts are perceived.
Cooley’s poems swing without warning from recollecting rural childhood experience in Saskatchewan—he currently lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba—to channeling the perspectives of his animal subjects.
In this touching, expansive and clear-eyed memoir, Jenna Butler connects her personal journey of healing to our need to address the global climate crisis.
Patricia Frolander’s book of poetry, “Second Wind,” elucidates the lifecycle of flora, fauna, and mankind.
Set in the author’s native Sweden of 1943, “The Historians” opens true to form as a murder mystery with an amateur sleuth.
“Dilly” follows the orphan on his trek from Ohio to Wyoming, eventually settling on a cattle ranch as the cook’s helper.
“Journeyman: The Story of NHL Right Winger Jamie Leach” chronicles the determination of a young man to play hockey professionally.
Julie Stielstra’s “Opulence, Kansas” tells the coming-of-age story of Katie Myrdal, a privileged adolescent girl from Chicago.
“Borderlands” offers a harmonic synthesis of beautiful photography, thoughtful prose, and historical research.
These portraits reflect hard luck people who remembered the Great Depression; some served in two world wars. They had outlived their usefulness to society, lonely has-beens who found comfort in the company of their own kind.
"The Indian’s Pony" was inspired by Shipman's life-long interest in and study of North American Plains horse culture.
“On a Good Horse,” is a heartfelt story addressing subjects such as grief, love, and family.
Harvey is a West Highland terrier without any anthropomorphizing.
Long nights on the wild Montana prairies can be lonely for the Nighthawk, the youngest cowboy charged with keeping horses calm during a roundup.
Barbara Miller Biles’ collection of stories considers the lives of a group of quirky women (and one man), their families, friends, lovers and acquaintances as they move through a varying group of life situations.
The short stories in “Vermin” bring to light how humans can infest and plague each other or themselves.
After writer Theis thoroughly enchants readers with Sylvie’s charm and humanity, we learn again and again that she’s a petty thief and chronic adulterer.
“In The Shadow of Dora” is a slim but powerful book that explores a man’s life at two very different and pivotal moments in history.
August, the protagonist of his evocative coming of age tale, is often an observer, and through him, Wink introduces us to people we might have gone to school with or met in some small prairie town, the kind with little houses whose walls contain history but have seen better days.
In "Ruthie Fear," the main character is a young woman struggling, but trying to find a way to survive her changing environment, toxic masculinity, politics and environmental crisis.
Wheeler invites readers into her thrilling personal history as filmmaker, adventurer, daughter, student…telling tales from near her original home in Alberta and across the globe.
Minton takes us on a tour of Montana, highlighting places in the state where Shakespeare’s plays have been performed.
Robert Chaney’s ambitious nonfiction book, “The Grizzly in the Driveway: The Return of Bears to a Crowded American West,” gives the reader everything they could possibly want to know about the grizzly bear situation in Montana (as well as surrounding states and provinces).
In “Field Notes for the Self,” Lundy’s poems sprawl across the page, many of them prose poems, with the clear, honest tone of Buckowski without Buckowski’s more sordid sensibilities.