With June’s arrival, it’s official: summer brain has set in. The days slow down and we long for lazy afternoons on the beach or on a porch swing with a glass of iced tea.
So when you find yourself there, we hope you’ll have this book for company. While it is a quick read, the story contained within is far from trivial. Jon Hassler’s Staggerford is a rich tale that chronicles one week in the life of 35-year-old bachelor and high school English teacher Miles Pruitt.
Staggerford is a small-town in Minnesota, a simple setting for a cast of colorful characters that fill the young school teacher’s life in a way that is anything but dull. Born and raised a Catholic, Miles has generally fallen away from the faith, though his elderly landlady and former second-grade teacher, Miss McGee, is doing her best to bring him back. Perched on the edge of a Native American reservation, the book gives readers a glimpse into eccentric town politics, a tense relationship with the reservation, humorously thwarted romances, poverty, scandal, and — most of all — hope.
A few things to notice as you read:
- Hassler’s unique writing style. For example, the author frequently uses repetition in dialogue and journal-style writing. Why does he do this? Do you think it is effective?
- Miles slowly reads his students’ “What I Wish” papers over the course of the week. What is the significance of this?
- Notice how Hassler allows the reader to get to know his characters. Some characters are developed, and others are relatively flat. Are these strategic choices?
- The book takes place around, and even acknowledges, All Soul’s Day. How does this theme guide your reading of the book?
We’ll check back in a few week with more thoughts on the book! Feel free to post below with comments or questions.