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Prudence: A Novel by David Treuer
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Prudence: A Novel (edition 2016)

by David Treuer (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1049209,176 (3.02)3
From a rising Native American writer, a haunting and unforgettable novel about love, loss, race, and desire in World War II-era AmericaOn a sweltering day in August 1942, Frankie Washburn returns to his family's rustic Minnesota resort for one last visit before he joins the war as a bombardier headed for the darkened skies over Europe. Awaiting him at the Pines are those he's about to leave behind: his hovering mother, the distant father to whom he's been a disappointment, the Indian caretaker who's been more of a father to him than his own, and Billy, the childhood friend who over the years has become something much more intimate. But before the homecoming can be celebrated, the search for a German soldier who has escaped from the POW camp across the river explodes in a shocking act of violence, with consequences that will reverberate years into the future for all of them and that will shape how each of them makes sense of their lives.With Prudence, Treuer delivers his most ambitious and captivating novel yet. Powerful and wholly original, it's a story of desire and loss and the search for connection in a riven world; of race and class in a supposedly more innocent era. Most profoundly, it's about the secrets we choose to keep, the ones we can't help but tell, and who-and how-we're allowed to love.… (more)
Member:nbyars
Title:Prudence: A Novel
Authors:David Treuer (Author)
Info:Riverhead Books (2016), Edition: Reprint, 272 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****1/2
Tags:Fiction, WWII, Indian Reservation, Minnesota, homosexuality

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Prudence by David Treuer

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» See also 3 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
A poor adaptation of Atonement-meets-Brokeback-Mountain. Some of the major events are telegraphed so far in advance that you feel no surprise at any of the shocking plot twists whatsoever. The story itself is somewhat interesting, but it's not well handled. Further, the character of Prudence is badly developed, which makes her constant sexualization both troubling and suspicious, especially because the men are treated in a way that makes them "helpless" to her wiles and passive in her wake. ( )
  DrFuriosa | Dec 4, 2020 |
Seems like a half-formed book that didn't get out of draft mode. I was already familiar with author David Treuer after picking up his book 'Rez Life' (which I still haven't read, oops). As part of my Goodreads challenge to clear out my books I thought I'd pick up this fictional tale of his. It's meant to check off the "Culture Vulture" task by reading a book of Native American literature, although it's not on the list of books. Whatever, it's another book out of my pile. :)
 
Presumably the book is the story of Frankie Washburn, a young man preparing to ship off to serve in World War II. He will leave behind his anxious mother, his cold and distant father, an Indian caretaker and his childhood friend who is much more. But the disappearance of a German prisoner of war sets in motion events that will affect the lives of the Washburn family and the others connected to them.
 
But...that isn't really what the book is about. The disappearance of the POW is merely a minor plot event to serve as bookends for the beginning and the end of the book. It's really not a part of the plot in any way, shape or form, at least not in the way the back cover synopsis reads. I thought the book started off well, with an intriguing and sad story of a the death of a young Indian woman and her baby, and was willing to give the author a pass at first because I thought he was trying hard to establish the setting and time and characters. It seemed VERY slow when he does this but I was willing to work though it and see where he went.
 
But instead we are treated to a mishmash of half-formed characters (some of whom disappear almost completely towards the end), time skips, flashbacks and one plot thread that I actually didn't really understand how it tied to the main story. When I closed the book I was left with more questions as to what exactly happened or why we were supposed to care about a couple of characters or what the reader was supposed to get out of it.
 
There were some really interesting places for the author to go: such as the deaths of the young Indian women that get little to no notice, the parallels of Jews and Native Americans, etc. But as I wrote, the book seemed half-formed. I thought it was just me since I got an ARC someone was giving away but based on reviews elsewhere, it seems I'm not the only one.
 
There are scenes of various graphic nature: the description of a dead body that has been rotting for about 3 days (it's definitely been out and exposed to the elements), consensual and some not consensual sexual activity, masturbation, general violence (shootings, war scenes, etc.). I did not feel extremely bothered by the descriptions except for perhaps the dead body (it just seemed gross) but just thought it would be a heads up for any readers going into this.
 
Glad I didn't buy it. I'm not going to be put off reading his 'Rez Life' since that's non-fiction anyway but I can't recommend this one. ( )
  HoldMyBook | Feb 11, 2018 |
Set in Minnesota, "Prudence" is a story beginning and ending with a young Native American orphan girl. This framework surrounds the stories of several men of various races, sexual orientations, and educational and vocational backgrounds. The author manages to pack incredible character studies into a short 200 pages. The writing style is a bit disorienting, but his use of both first and third person narrators seems to fit the story being told. The setting is world war II, the story is inter-racial relationships, but bottom line it's about love, despair, and growing up without guidance. It's not a happily ever after story, but neither is it so dark and dreary that the reader loses hope. I found it a quick and engrossing read leaving more positive than negative reactions than I expected from the publisher's blurb and other reviewers. ( )
  tututhefirst | Feb 1, 2016 |
Ok, I really didn't care this book...so I tried to figure out what was going on with David Treuer to have written it, and found this amazing, clear headed review about his intentions:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/books/ct-prj-prudence-david-treuer-2015...

Everything Treuer said in this interview points to his empathy for the helpless and the victimized. But how could this particular novel have been the result of these very moral, very good intentions? The novel felt labored, as if the author tried a lot of scenes and then discarded them. I'm left with the feeling that there should be a scene or a coherence instead of an empty space between disconnected threads of stories. Also the motivations and actions of characters are obscured and at times so ugly that it's difficult to reach past them into any kind of redemption or purpose. For example there are a couple of blame-the-child-for-her-own-rape scenes, or at least that is how I responded to them--third person limited and first person points of view, both used here, don't allow at all times for a reader to distinguish between a character's awfulness and the author's own possible exploitation of shock themes. Another fault I found is that the characters don't act in psychologically valid ways--instead, they feel empty of all but an archetypal validity. Several times I thought: 'now why did this character do that?' and could not find a reasonable answer.

After settling into my feelings about the book for a couple of days I've come back to give it three stars instead of one because one scene saved the book for me, a scene of great tension, great love, and much redemption near the end of the book. It's a story where three extremely minor characters come to the fore and interact in a very surprising way, a set piece all of its own that would have made a great short story.

I guess I'm trying to say that it could have been better. I would love the author to have stuck very close to a fictionalized story of the woman of whom Ernest Hemingway said: "The first woman I ever pleasured was a half-breed Ojibwe girl named Prudence Bolton." The ugliness of this sentence was a major motivation for Treuer to write his novel, but his character named Prudence and her story felt buried under a lot of sludge and her significance obscured by many other themes and unpleasantnesses.
( )
  poingu | Jan 23, 2016 |
This story takes place in Minnesota, which interested me since that's where I live. It started off promisingly, but by the end of the book I was somewhat disappointed. I'm not totally sure why the book was entitled "Prudence" since she plays a small role until the very end. She then takes a major role and the people we were introduced to earlier are dealt with summarily - it just didn't fall into place very well, unfortunately, and it left me unsatisfied. ( )
  flourgirl49 | Jul 21, 2015 |
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From a rising Native American writer, a haunting and unforgettable novel about love, loss, race, and desire in World War II-era AmericaOn a sweltering day in August 1942, Frankie Washburn returns to his family's rustic Minnesota resort for one last visit before he joins the war as a bombardier headed for the darkened skies over Europe. Awaiting him at the Pines are those he's about to leave behind: his hovering mother, the distant father to whom he's been a disappointment, the Indian caretaker who's been more of a father to him than his own, and Billy, the childhood friend who over the years has become something much more intimate. But before the homecoming can be celebrated, the search for a German soldier who has escaped from the POW camp across the river explodes in a shocking act of violence, with consequences that will reverberate years into the future for all of them and that will shape how each of them makes sense of their lives.With Prudence, Treuer delivers his most ambitious and captivating novel yet. Powerful and wholly original, it's a story of desire and loss and the search for connection in a riven world; of race and class in a supposedly more innocent era. Most profoundly, it's about the secrets we choose to keep, the ones we can't help but tell, and who-and how-we're allowed to love.

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