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The Expeditions by Karl Iagnemma
The Expeditions is set in 1844 and 16-year-old Elisha Stone has run away from his Massachusetts home and arrived in the frontier town of Detroit. He's a budding naturalist and he jumps at the chance to accompany an expedition to Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The other expedition members are Silas Brush, who wants to see what resources can be extracted from the land, and George Tiffin who wants to prove his own crackpot theory about the origin of American Indians. They are guided by a half-Chippewa woman who fills in for her missing husband. Before they leave Detroit, Elisha pens a letter to his mother to finally let her know what has happened to him. His estranged father receives the letter and sets out for Michigan to let Elisha know that his mother has died. Karl Iagnemma's debut novel has received positive reviews with the Seattle Times saying, "The Expeditions is astute in tracing the murky boundary between observation and interpretation - especially when a researcher comes at his subject with an agenda. This is a father-and-son story, too, handled to great effect, without slipping into sentimentality. With its rich characterizations, its lively action, its supple thought and its fine, rhythmic prose, this book is a pleasure from cover to cover."