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Reviews of Gifted

Gifted by John Daniel Publishers Weekly

Henry Fielder is having trouble telling his story, until, after years repressing many of his childhood memories, a chance encounter with a former lover inspires him. From rural Oregon logging country, Henry grew up with a strong bond to the natural world. After his mother fell ill and passed away in a nursing home, Henry’s father became increasingly isolationist and erratic, occasionally physically abusing Henry. In order to deal with his difficult life at home, Henry turned toward the natural beauty of Oregon and eventually met Carter Stephens and his wife, urban transplants who introduced him to conservation and environmental activism. To cope with his abusive father, Henry started drinking and smoking pot at age 15; one night, after catching his son inebriated, Henry’s father took the abuse to a new horrific level. Daniel captures Henry’s feeling of isolation and loneliness with eloquent prose that draws readers into the mossy old-growth forests of the Northwest. His clean descriptions and comforting digressions about the landscape mirror Henry’s own attempts to find solace in an unjust, confusing world. Daniel’s impressive novel quietly builds, ending in a place where Henry can see the way past his experiences into a much more beautiful, logical future.