I picked up Montana 1948 in the dollar bin at a thrift store knowing very little about it except that it took place in a small town. In Montana, if you can believe it – and guess what, it takes place in the ’40s. Crazy, I know!
I ended up reading this during Dewey’s 24-hour-readathon and was surprised by how fantastic it was. It’s short, which is the only reason I chose it on that particular day, but a lot happens in just over 100 pages: death, incarceration, coming of age, etc. I didn’t grow up on a Montana prairie town so I can’t say that it gets it just right but it does certainly create a world in this time and space in a convincing way.
The narrator is telling the story as he recollects it, forty years after it happens. There’s a little bit of an unreliable narrator situation going on as a result, because the child you remember being as an adult doesn’t necessarily have a ton in common with the child you actually were, but it doesn’t get bogged down with confusion or questions about the truth. It’s clear that it is the truth as he best recollects it and the story is told with authority.
There are lessons to be learned in this book. Prejudice, justice, and hypocrisy are all explored. It is a book that begs for a thoughtful reader and I hope it finds many more of us.