Harvest Moon, by Jenny Knipfer
Historical Fiction/Christian Inspirational
Self-Published, November 23, 2020
Reviewed by Gloria Bartel, https://gloriaabartel.wixsite.com/gloriaabartel
Jenny Knipfer creates yet another masterpiece with her fourth book in the By the Light of the Moon Series, Harvest Moon. Told from the perspectives of Maang-ikwe and her son, Niin-mawin, this story of forgiveness and grace intertwines the lives of these characters, their loved ones, and their wrongdoers in a most intricate and passionately descriptive way.
The book is divided into two sections, the first of which focuses largely on Maang-ikwe as she blooms into womanhood and finds her calling as an Ojibwe medicine woman while overcoming personal obstacles and growing stronger in her faith in Jesus Christ. The second section focuses on Niin-mawin, Maang-ikwe’s son, who finds himself in a turbulent time of Native history, straddling two worlds—that of his people, the Anishinaabe, and that of his forced upbringing in the white man’s school. Through both perspectives, the story unravels of love and loss and finding a way that leads to love again.
As in her other novels, Knipfer plays with the timelines of her characters, jumping back and forth between perspectives as she goes. While this can occasionally be confusing, Knipfer always gives the reader time and place cues to ground them. The author has put a marvelous amount of research into this book, and while at first incorporating the Ojibwe language into the story seemed awkward, it quickly became natural-feeling and added authenticity to Maang-ikwe and Niin-mawin’s story.
The language of the book has an almost poetic feel to it sometimes in the descriptions of the physical world and the events the characters are taking part in. Knipfer transports us to 1869 on the Lake Nipigon Reservation as Niin-mawin learns how to beat the ceremonial drum and pray to Gitchi-manidoo to guide his path. We readers walk the shore along Lake Superior, looking across its vastness and wonder, is there another side to the great sea before us?
In the same way, Knipfer creates her characters with so much emotion and physical presence that they become almost real in the imagination. Few of the many characters in Harvest Moon remain static, so the reader gains a better sense of the bonds among the characters across all the timelines presented.
While you do not need to read the other books in this series to understand the characters or the story, doing so can help create a better grounding in the world Jenny Knipfer builds for her reader and may help clarify the epilogue of this story. Overall, Harvest Moon is a captivating and evocative novel of the importance of family, faith, and forgiveness and how, together, those things help heal a broken heart.
Reviewer Gloria Bartel lives in southern Wisconsin and is an aspiring writer. She loves to read books of all kinds. She has been writing novels since high school. She enjoys talking to authors about their publishing journeys as one day she hopes to publish some of her vast collection of novels.