*I received a free copy of this book, with thanks to the author and BookSirens. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: “Remember that stories can set us free. Tell her a story from your heart and she’ll know what to do.”
40 year-old Federico Garcia is an Afghan vet who has seen more than enough tragedy for one lifetime. His dreams and memories of his bloody past haunt him, and leave an empty space in his heart. When he meets Marie, a young woman trapped in an abusive marriage, they forge an unlikely friendship that blossoms into the promise of something more…
Until Marie is mysteriously injured in a fall down the stairs, and finds herself in a coma.
Federico begins his own investigation into the life of his beloved friend, and uncovers secrets about Marie’s personal life that she never wanted revealed. But his discoveries have only begun.
Marie would like him to meet someone—the strange and magical Elizabeth —who has a story for Federico to hear.
Magical, lyrically rendered, and sparkling with childlike wonder, “Gichimanidoo” is a captivating tale of magical realism and love against all odds.
Gichi Manidoo is an enchanting fable for grown-ups, about love, loss and letting go.
Told as a story within a story – a dream within a dream – we first meet Fede, struggling with the violence he has seen in Afghanistan when he meets Marie and remembers there are other things in life, like dancing. Their instant connection is shadowed by the dark presence of her husband. Marie insists he loves and protects her. Fede suspects more to it than that, and is not surprised when he learns that Marie has had an ‘accident’.
Then he meets Elizabeth, a young girl with a story to tell, and the reader is plunged into the magical realm of Gichi Manidoo; where animals talk (sometimes in rhyme) and the challenges are symbolic, but still real. Similar in style to stories like Alice in Wonderland and The Jungle Books during this section, the content is more like The Pilgrim’s Progress, as Elizabeth must help and be helped by various characters, and learn important lessons about herself before she can move forward.
As she tells her story to Fede, he also learns and gains understanding from it and he and the reader come to understand that the key to move on from our pain is within each individual if we can only understand it and unlock the cage that is holding us back.
Full of philosophical insight and moral wisdom, and yet also an entertaining and moving tale about memory, identity and love (healthy and otherwise), Gichi Manidoo is a magical realism allegory with a gentle, but important, message at its core.
The creature folded stubby front legs across a puffed chest in an effort to appear bigger. Elizabeth matched its pose, and the pair regarded one another. It reminded her of a mongoose or perhaps a mink.
“Well?” she said.
“I see you,” said the animal. Its nose twitched.
She gave a start. A talking animal meant she had to be dreaming. “I should think you can. I’m standing right here, after all.”
“And why are you here, human girl?”
She tried to reach back in the darkened corridors of her memory, looking for something, some scrap from before the time she walked out of the darkness. There was only a locked door.
– Charles J. Musser, Gichi Manidoo
Gichi Manidoo is available on Amazon right now!