Guest Post by Kevin Brown
In this debut novel, Melinda Moustakis creates a couple who agree to marry each other a day after they first meet, based mainly on Lawrence’s claim to 150 acres. He and Marie have reasons for wanting land, a home, and a family, though she is more forthcoming about those reasons. On the one hand, then, this novel explores the challenges of clearing land and building a house in Alaska in the 1950s. It touches on the development of Alaska as a state and the land the federal government took away from the indigenous tribes who lived there for centuries. Moustakis, though, is more concerned about what it means to make a life with another person, as opposed to in a particular place; the isolation of the homestead simply heightens the conflicts Lawrence and Marie have. The idea of statehood echoes the trades one must make in a relationship, as some people oppose statehood because of the taxes the federal government will impose in exchange for services and the right to vote, while the takeover of native lands shows what happens when a relationship is one-sided. There are threats hanging over Marie and Lawrence’s relationship throughout the novel, whether that’s a grizzly bear attack or the secrets Lawrence keeps, leaving the reader wondering if what they have built can survive in the wild.
Homestead by Melinda Moustakis. Flatiron Books, February 2023.
Reviewer bio: Kevin Brown has published three books of poetry: Liturgical Calendar: Poems (Wipf and Stock); A Lexicon of Lost Words (winner of the Violet Reed Haas Prize for Poetry, Snake Nation Press); and Exit Lines (Plain View Press). He also has a memoir, Another Way: Finding Faith, Then Finding It Again, and a book of scholarship, They Love to Tell the Stories: Five Contemporary Novelists Take on the Gospels. Twitter @kevinbrownwrite or kevinbrownwrites.weebly.com/.