The Memory Quilt
Pamela J. Erickson
Expert Pub, 2003 (2003)
Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto
he Memory Quilt
tells the tale of a historical natural disaster unknown to many – the Great Cloquet Fire of 1918. Erickson's inspiration for the novel came from her grandparents, who survived the fire that leveled the town of Cloquet, Minnesota.
lthough the disaster may not be known to those outside that state, the emotions expressed in the book are universal. The story's protagonist is modern day Cloquet teenager, Lisa Hanson. Home sick with the flu, Lisa falls asleep wrapped in the quilt her grandmother made after surviving the fire. While napping, Lisa dreams that she is her great-aunt Liisa Maki who disappeared the day of the fire. No one in Lisa's family knows what happened to the eldest Maki girl on that dreadful day (Liisa was not on the farm with the rest of her family when the fire flared, because she was working in town as a live-in domestic). Now, through her fever dream, Lisa is about to discover what happened to her grandmother's sister.
rickson's strength as a writer lies in her descriptions of the characters' feelings. From Lisa being sick with the flu to the urgency that Liisa experiences while trying to outrun the fire, feelings ring true. This creates a bond with the main character. Unfortunately, there's a sour note at the end of the story. Lisa spends the whole novel trying to solve the mystery of what happened to her great-aunt and suspense builds. However, once Lisa draws a conclusion, it is anticlimactic. She does not even get a chance to find out if the end of her dream is correct before the book closes. Instead of the truth being revealed, a possible love interest is thrown in for Lisa - a conclusion that leaves the reader feeling let down.
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