Future Earth has been ruined by past generations so a project to create sustainable life on Mars was begun. Adri has been selected for this next group of colonists. She lost her parents in a flood and was raised in a group home, and focused on her education with the goal in mind to be selected for Mars. She is stand-offish, not making connections with others. The story opens with Adri going to the home of Lily, a distant and elderly relative in Kansas to sort of regroup and think before signing the final commitment to Mars. She finds herself in an old house that was part of a thriving farm at one time. Now, the only animal is a tortoise, Galapagos.
Lily is quite kind and facing dementia. She has lived on the family farm all her life but is forgetting the history of the homestead. She takes Adri in and accepts her distant personality. Meanwhile Adri finds old letters and a diary. By reading the journals and letters of Cathy, who lived in the house during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s she pieces together part of the homestead’s history. But what of the tortoise? She finds letters from Lenore in England to her best friend, Beth, who journeyed to the States after WWI. Through these letters she learns how the tortoise came to be in Kansas and more about Cathy and her family who tried to stick it out through the years of drought. It is through reading these letters that Adri understands that is it the connection between people that brings purpose and value to life.
I am so glad I read this book! The blurbs made it sound like generations of women were linked by a tortoise, as if by magic. Or maybe that was just what I read into it. But not at all. We learn about and care about women across the generations and how their lives mattered. How all lives matter. It is a character study and a book about life and love. Brilliantly written. A quick, yet memorable read. Highly recommend.
eGalley review Publication date 6.13.17