Etta and Otto and Russell and James

By Emma Hooper

3 out of 5 stars

82-year-old Etta sets out to see the ocean. She packs a rifle, some boots, some chocolate and a few other edibles and leave the farm she shares with her husband Otto in rural Canada. The story follows Etta’s journey but also tells us about how she came to meet her husband Otto and his friend Russell. We go back and forth between their youthful days, Otto’s tour in the army and the relationship that the three shared. Otto stays at home, building paper mache animals while Russell sets out to find Etta. Etta is discovered by some reporters and she becomes a unwilling celebrity. She is suffering from the onset of dementia and sometimes isn’t sure what is real or if these people who are excited to see her are people she might actually know. And we cannot forget her traveling companion James, a talking coyote.

This is a very different, interesting tale. The main characters are very endearing. There is such a sweet, homespun, simple charm about them. It is one of those books that slowly ambles to it’s conclusion and  I enjoyed that about it until I came to the ending. I admit I did not get it at all. That ended up taking away my total pleasure with the story.

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