Inland is the alternating stories of Lurie Mattie and Nora Lark and the ultimate intersection of those stories. Nora’s story takes place in 1893 in Amargo, Arizona Territory and Lurie’s story takes place throughout his life in a variety of places in the 1800s.
Lurie has been on the run since he was six years old, initially with his father until his father’s death, at which point he is sold to a Mr. Saurelle as labor. Lurie ends up living with two other boys, Hobbs and Donovan while working for Mr. Saurelle. Hobbs has a tendency towards theft and the three together become thieves and murderers. After a particularly gruesome murder, Lurie, who speaks to and sees the dead, is on the run. Ultimately, he finds himself traveling with a military group that has a number of camels, making them a peculiarity everywhere they go.
While traveling he befriends Ali Mostafa (Jolly), who helps Lurie throughout his story. Lurie’s camel, Burke, becomes a significant part of his life and we learn Lurie’s life story through his conversations with Burke. Lurie is being hunted by Marshall John Berger and is unable to stay in any one place for long. He abandons his traveling group and takes Burke with him. Later, he reunites with Jolly and they engage in business together, with their camels.
Nora Lark is living the hard life in Amargo, which is in the midst of a terrible drought. Her husband, Emmett Lark runs the local newspaper, The Amargo Sentinel. Although Amargo is the county seat, a political movement is afoot to move the county seat to Ash River. The Amargo newspaper is ominously silent about the potential move.
When we first meet Nora, Emmitt has gone to find water and sons Rob and Dolan have disappeared with the family dogs. Nora’s youngest son, Toby, and the family’s ward, Josie, insist they have seen a beast and Nora is attempting to convince them of the absurdity of this contention. Nora’s deceased daughter, Evelyn, who died before she was a year old, talks to Nora throughout the novel.
While Emmitt is out of town seeking water, the Amargo doctor, Dr. Hector, asks to acquire The Sentinel. Later, the town Sheriff, with whom Nora has a special relationship, and the community’s evil wealthy cattle barron, Merrion Crace, also pay Nora a visit regarding The Sentinel. We learn that everyone around has ulterior motives.
The novel ends with Lurie’s and Nora’s lives intersecting and the disclosure of most of the story’s unknowns.
I had some trouble with the book, particularly the story of Lurie. It was difficult to follow the geography and the characters he encountered. Nora’s story was more interesting but ultimately the book is tragic and a challenging read. You can reserve the novel at the Cuyahoga County Public Library by clicking here, and decide for yourself what you think.