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“If brains was lard, he couldn’t grease up a good-size skillet, bless his heart.”

Reading Cold River by Liz Adair made my week.

Leesie asked. “Say, can you help me here? Define ‘paradigm.’”
It took Mandy a moment to shift gears. “Paradigm? It’s a framework, or model, that is accepted and that everyone works—and even thinks—within.”
Leesie furrowed her brow. “So a paradigm shift would be . . . ”
“You know when you hear people talk about thinking outside the box? Maybe that’s what it means—seeing the world in a whole different way.”

When Mandy Steenburg is hired as supertendent for the Cascade School District in Limestone, she enters a world where the cultural history of the people winds through them like a river. It is manifested in their music, their language, and in their tight circle of loyalty. In Limestone, the circle closes to shut Mandy out.

Things become increasingly tense when she realizes that someone is purposely making attempts on her life.
“She has a face like a blind cobbler’s thumb.” But not Mandy. She is pursued by one man, snubbed by another, and welcomed warmly by a third. All amid a setting that is at times enchanting, at times threatening, but always beautiful.

Resting her arms on the railing, she looked through the tall windows at the vista spread out beyond. The river looked like a steel-gray ribbon winding around a spreading bouquet of Douglas fir and rosy-brown alder. Above the river, fog lay in a fluffy white stratum, like an eiderdown that had been shaken out and was floating down to cover the bed again.

Almost imperceptibly, Mandy begins to care about her job and about the people of the isolated town. She comes to recognize their strengths and deep principles.

“We married, had children, toured with our own band. We were successful. We worked with some very talented people and made a lot of money. But it’s no life for a family, no life for children, you know?”
Again Mandy nodded.
“I wanted to give my children what I was given by my parents. . . I felt that the music would be with me wherever I went, that I wasn’t defined by how famous I was or how much money I made. More than that, I felt that I would be defined by how good a father I was and how much good I did with my music.”

And she comes to care about the man who loves her. Cold River captures the reader with suspense, romance, jealousy, prejudice, love, joy and paradigm shifts.

Side note: I was intrigued when Mandy began teaching a dyslexic woman to read. [One year I had two dyslexic students in my sixth grade class. One received no help and could not read. I had to take time to test him orally, or have another student take dictation from him. The other child was involved in therapy, which from its description, sounded just like what Adair describes in her book. Not only did he learn to read, but to write essays. Adair gives the information of where to find this method in the front of her book.]

I need to go now, these days “I’m busy as a farmer with one hoe and two rattlesnakes.”

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