Wingshooters by Nina Revoyr

I enjoy reading books that have a Wisconsin connection. By that I mean the book has a Wisconsin setting or the author is from Wisconsin. I just finished reading a new book, Wingshooters by Nina Revoyr. The author grew up in Japan, Wisconsin, and California, and the book is set in central Wisconsin. There are autobiographical elements in Wingshooters. Both the author and the main character have a Japanese mother and a white American father and have English Springer Spaniel dogs.

Wingshooters is set during 1974 in the fictional town of Deerhorn which resembles Marshfield. Michelle (Mikey) is 9 years and living with her paternal grandparents after her parents’ marriage broke up. Mikey’s father is white and her mother is Japanese, and she is the only non-white person in town.  Mikey idolizes her grandfather Charlie LeBeau who was a minor league baseball player and is an excellent hunter and fisherman. Mikey is picked on at school, but she enjoys being outdoors with her grandfather and her dog and learning baseball, hunting, and fishing. Charlie is respected in the small community and shares their prejudices and values. There is a clinic in town that is expanding. The Garretts, a black couple, come to town so that Mrs. Garrett can work there as a nurse.  Mr. Garrett is a teacher and is hired as a substitute teacher at the elementary school. Having a black couple in town upsets many of the white people and causes some to take matters into their own hands especially after Mr. Garrett reports a possible case of child abuse. The result is violence and tragedy. There are lots of big themes in this book—racism, family, loyalty to friends, child abuse, bullying, poverty, and working class values set against the turbulent 1970s when the Vietnam War was ending, Nixon resigned and students were bussed for integration. 

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