Release day for my book, Harvest Moon, approaches, and I thought I’d highlight characters who have a point of view in the story.
Maang-ikwe or Maang-ikwezens: Her name means Loon Woman or Loon Girl, as I start her story when she’s around seven.
In the wilds of 19th century Ontario, Maang-ikwe, a young Ojibwe woman, falls into a forbidden love, breaks her father’s honor, and surrenders her trust to someone who betrays it. The abuse she suffers divides her from her tribe and causes her to give up what she holds most dear.
Her inner qualities:
- Feisty: This acts in her favor making her determined and strong-willed but also perhaps makes her rely too much on her own strength.
- Stubborn: Acting as a double edged sword, transforming her into a tenacious spirit, Maang-ikwe’s stubborn streak builds a desire in her to have what she wants, despite who’s life she may interrupt.
- Hard working: With the kind of life she lives on the reservation for the first sixteen years of her life, Maang-ikwe is no stranger to hard work. But it’s community work, where friends and relatives share the burden.
- Loyal: One of the driving forces throughout the plot is her bond to her sister, Celeste. Maang-ikwe eventually puts her own wants aside for the sake of a promise she makes to Celeste.
- Spiritual: In tune with her heritage and the world around her, Maang-ikwe also embraces Christianity and learns to connect and hear from Gitchi-manidoo, her Ojibwe name for God.
- Wise: Wisdom often comes through difficult paths, as Maang-ikwe discovers. The physical and mental abuse she suffers at the mission school doesn’t compare to what she endures at a friend’s hand and the ensuing consequences it brings.
- Medicine Woman: Maang-ikwe trains to learn the healing herbal arts of her tribe but also turns her heart to God, seeking his help and intervention in her work.
Niin-mawin: His Ojibwe name means, “She Cries For Him”. He also adopts the French name Laramie as he battles with his identity. His perspective starts as a boy, while he attends a French Jesuit mission school.
Niin-mawin must come to grips with his culture being ripped away from him. Brought up in a “white man’s” school, he suffers through an enforced “civilized” education and separation from his family. When a man he respects reveals a secret about Niin-mawin’s past, he embarks on a search for the person he hopes can mend the part of his heart that’s always been missing.
His inner qualities:
- Rolls with the punches: Throughout the division from his family, troubles and ill-treatment at school, and the uncovering of a huge secret, Niin-mawin stays strong and handles life as best as he can.
- Seeker: He’s always felt a bit lost, searching for something or someone to belong to, giving him identity and a purpose.
- Gives his heart easily: Despite Niin-mawin’s life circumstances and trials, he trusts and cares easily for others, an unusual characteristic in one who has suffered.
- A bit of a gambler: He’s willing to take a risk, try something new, and enter uncharted waters. This serves him well and sets him on a course that will change his life.
- Kind: He’s concerned about others and wants to help those in need.
Other Voices in the Story:
Wiigwas-ikwe: Maang-ikwe and Celeste’s mother, her name means “Birch Woman”. She loses much, as she buries her first husband and two sons but remains open to hope when she meets a gentle, kind French man, whom she marries.
A stabilizing force in her daughter’s lives, Wiigwas, loves her daughters dearly but chooses a path which brings Maang-ikwe and Celeste even closer.
Celeste: Half-sister to Maang-ikwe, Celeste’s bond to her sibling is formed early on as Maang-ikwe saves her life. That bond grows and into their adult years, Maang-ikwe helps guide Celeste through heart-wrenching events.
John Pierre: A young French/English man, operating a new mining venture, falls headlong for Celeste. Their lives blend together, but little does John Pierre suspect the trials of loss they will face together, leaving him alone, holding his infant daughter.
Gaawesa: The son of the chief, Gaawesa is secretly engaged to Maang-ikwe. He’s strong, caring, but perhaps too suggestable, which takes him down a road he regrets. Unable to sway the tide of change for his people and way of life, Gaawesa pays a heavy price.
Ignacio: A young novice serving with the Jesuit priests at the mission school, he and Maang-ikwe develop an immediate bond, which becomes stronger and morphs into something neither of them suspect.
Through him Maang-ikwe comes to know more about God and His Son. She embraces the kind of faith Ignacio shows her, a different kind, compared to what she’s been shown by Father Marcius.
Ignacio’s sense of duty weighs heavy on his heart and winds up making him choose between the two loves in his life.
Edmund: A troubled but friendly man, Edmund is hired as a carpenter. He meets and sympathizes with Maang-ikwe over her ill-treatment at the mission school, which he’s been working on, expanding the building.
He makes the biggest mistake of his life and causes emotional pain to someone he cares for. To escape his misdeeds, Edmund takes to shipping and becomes a captain on his uncle’s ship, but he can’t flee from his feelings and the secret Maang-ikwe reveals to him.
It’s my prayer that this tale of finding grace and blessings amongst life’s hardships will bless my readers. Rich with drama, love, sorrow, and joy, I hope Harvest Moon will stick with you, long after you turn the last page.