Reason to Believe
By Kathleen Eagle
Publisher: Bell Bridge Books
Release Date: July 16, 2013
(originally published by Avon in 1995)
The demanding ride through the Dakotas in December challenges the bodies, minds, and spirits of those who participate. Clara and Ben are forced to examine themselves in ways that would have been unlikely in ordinary circumstances. Clara, who defied her family to marry Ben, must come to terms with her inability to fix everything and her determination to keep the imperfections from showing. She could not prevent Ben’s alcoholic binges, and she cannot protect Anna from Anna’s own bad choices or from the bigotry of racists. She knows that she still loves Ben, but can she rebuild the trust that his infidelity shattered? Ben is plagued by the conviction that he is unworthy of his father’s belief in him and of his wife and daughter’s love for him. He has fought for his sobriety tenaciously, but his spiritual struggles are ongoing. And his self-recrimination over his failures as a son, a husband, and a father haunt him. Can he reclaim what he has lost? Will Anna’s love for her parents and her dream of a reunited family and Dewey’s wisdom and hopes for a successor to continue the beliefs of his people help Clara and Ben to find their way back? The reader is pulled into this story that has dimensional reality and substance.
This novel is my favorite of Kathleen Eagle’s books. I reread it every couple of years, and I rejoiced when Bell Bridge Books made it available in digital format. It is both a deeply emotional reunion story and a powerful, detailed account of an actual event. Eagle never shies from tackling the tough stuff, and in this novel she uses alcoholism, adultery, teen rebellion, and spiritual struggles to create a world where flawed characters fight to find healing, hope, and love despite their failures. Her own experience as a former teacher in a reservation school and as a white woman married to a Lakota saturate the story with authenticity. This book is one of those romance novels that surpasses any limitations of genre fiction. It touches the reader’s heart and challenges the reader to ponder important questions. Kathleen Eagle has given us many gems. I think this one is her best. I highly recommend it.