Frankie Ravan
by F.A. Loomis

"She liked to watch the clouds form along the blue-black ridges and see their shadows run from the aspen groves along the creek, over oat fields and pastures until, reaching the edge of the timber above the Notch, their color blended into green and gold ramparts of lodgepole, yellowpine and tamarack."

Finely woven prose elevates this tale of 1958 rural Idaho. Loomis is a gifted wordsmith, crafting a soulful mosaic of what ultimately amounts to loosely-bound vignettes. Frankie Ravan is an 8-year-old trying to make sense of daily occurrences in Crawford's Nook, a small town in central Idaho. The characters and situations are typical of the era and locale: zealot preachers, troubled teens more bored than truly delinquent; families adapting to post World War II societal upheaval; elders mourning fading ways; and life lessons gleamed in untimely death.

Loomis' writing is best when his characters head into the back country to hike, fish, hunt, harvest and round up cattle. There's exceptional geographic color. However, Frankie Ravan aspires to be a novel, not a series of short stories, and it might have benefited from a more definitive, overarching plot. While inspiringly worded, more might have been made of any number of plot threads, particularly one regarding a series of suspicious fires. Given his great attention to detail and abundance of interesting characters and situations, this book might even become a series of novels about Crawford's Nook. Memorably written, yet with thin plotting.

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