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LUCKY TURTLE by Bill Roorbach Kirkus Star


by Bill Roorbach

Pub Date: April 26th, 2022
ISBN: 978-1-64375-097-2
Publisher: Algonquin

A teenage girl sent to reform school in deepest Montana meets the love of her life the day she arrives—the school's van driver.

"The driver was my age, maybe a little older, slender, huge cowboy hat and cowboy boots and cowboy buckle. He wore a long black braid tied with rawhide and thicker rawhide bands around his wiry biceps....He smelled like some distant burning, I can hardly explain it, studied my eyes whenever I was required to cooperate, didn’t put his hands on me, didn’t ask any questions, didn’t offer any greetings, not a word from his mouth." Look out: Roorbach has created the sexiest man seen in literature in a good long time. This is Lucky Turtle, who, as 16-year-old Cindra Zoeller is about to learn, just keeps getting better the more you know him; his wilderness survival skills—which will come seriously into play—verge on the supernatural. What's more, the very next time they're alone together, taking the camp laundry into town, he reveals that his clairvoyant aunt has foreseen that she will be his wife. Fans of Roorbach's work—most recently The Girl of the Lake (2017)—have been waiting five years for this book and will not be disappointed. Again, the man has cooked up a completely captivating world, just a touch more magical and interesting than the real one. This time, it's a place called Turtle Butte, where a disgraced television actress has turned her attention to reforming misguided female youth at a facility called Camp Challenge. It's a slowly unfolding, complicated, suspenseful plot; it's safe to say that Cindra will not be reformed. There's no lane-staying for White guy Roorbach: His teenage-girl narrator is flawless; Chinese, Haitian, and Native characters are beautifully done. (Many sensitivity readers are thanked in the acknowledgments.) Lucky Turtle has his woodland lore and Native rituals; Cindra has her copy of Hawaii, which they read aloud from every night: "Michener was strong medicine."

An epic love story and love letter to the West. No greater reading pleasure to be had anywhere.