Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: She Writes Press (September 8, 2020)
Praise for THE BEST PART OF US
“Sally Cole-Misch’s novel is a lush and lovely homage to the natural places where her protagonist grew up. . . . The plot spanning past and present kept me enthralled and engaged throughout my reading of this exceptionally good book. The Best Part of Us is most highly recommended.” —Readers’ Favorite
“This is not just storytelling, it’s a lived experience. Sally’s description of the cold, crystal waters and magnificent landscape of the North Country is so vivid I feel as though I paid it a visit. The story’s depth and vivid characterization are unforgettable. At a time when we seem to have lost our way in navigating the human relationship with place, Sally has provided a true compass to help us find home. ” —Dave Dempsey, 2009 Michigan Author of the Year, author of ten books and renowned Great Lakes environmental policy expert
“With exquisite descriptions of Canadian lake and forest country and the Ojibway life rooted there, Cole-Misch expertly weaves the elements of those differing cultures, fraught but tightly bound family relationships, young love, old love, and the wonder of coming of age—at every age—into a luminous novel. The Best Part of Us is a beautiful story that will keep you up reading, and then keep you company for a long time afterward.” —Barbara Stark-Nemon, award-winning author of Even in Darkness and Hard Cider
“A story so evocative you can smell the lake and hear the loons. . . . The Best Part of Us draws in lyrical strokes the many shades of grief and the healing magic of place.” —Jenni Ogden, bestselling author of A Drop in the Ocean
“Place plays a key role in this novel, with an island in northern Ontario lovingly observed through the eyes of our protagonist, Beth. Troubles come in the form of her family’s attachment to the land and issues around who rightfully owns it—their Welsh ancestors or the Native peoples of earlier times—and the book raises and explores these important, contemporary questions with care and sensitivity. Their resolution is complicated—at once hopeful and messy, like all imperfect decisions. The Best Part of Us is a lovely, engrossing book about place, family, history, and cultural sensitivity.” —Angela Pneuman, award-winning author of Home Remedies and Lay It on My Heart
1. What is on your nightstand?
Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer is always there, my go-to book to find kindness and reason in a world that often lacks both; The Moon is Missing by Jenni Ogden; The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd; The Plant Messiah by Carlos Magdalena
2. What author would you totally fan?
Barbara Kingsolver, Alice Hoffman, Louise Erdrich
3. What makes you cringe?
Seeing violence toward any animal
4. Do you obsessively plot out each point or just go with the flow?
Plot out scenes generally on 3×5 cards and then go with the flow!
5. Is there a word you love to use?
Beth cherished her childhood summers on a pristine northern Canadian lake, where she reveled in the sweet smell of dew on early morning hikes, the loons’ evening trills across the lake’s many bays, every brush stroke of her brother’s paintings celebrating their cherished place, and their grandfather’s laughter as he welcomed neighbors to their annual Welsh harvest celebration. Theirs was an unshakeable bond with nature, family, and friends, renewed every summer on their island of granite and pines.
But that bond was threatened and then torn apart, first as rights to their island were questioned and then by nature itself, and the family was forced to leave. Fourteen years later, Beth has created a new life in urban Chicago. There, she’s erected a solid barrier between the past and present, no matter how much it costs—until her grandfather asks her to return to the island to determine its fate. Will she choose to preserve who she has become, or risk everything to discover if what was lost still remains?
The Best Part of Us will immerse readers in a breathtaking natural world, a fresh perspective on loyalty, and an exquisite ode to the essential roles that family, nature, and place hold in all of our lives.
Sally Cole-Misch is a writer and environmental communicator who advocates for the natural world through work and play. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri, a master’s degree in environmental education and international water policy from the University of Michigan, and a certificate in fiction writing from Stanford University. Throughout her career, she’s focused on communicating our essential connection with nature—particularly the Great Lakes—and the role each of us can play to restore, protect, and enjoy all that nature gives to us. Sally lives in Michigan with her husband and son and enjoys hiking, kayaking, sailing, skiing, and gardening.