White Buffalo Gold is a book I had the pleasure of reading as part of the process for my good friend, Adam Fleming, to pursue publishing. (Check out his Kickstarter project!) White Buffalo Gold follows the lives of three girls as they come of age in a rural town. Amy, Emily, and Melissa share a long history together. Through the novel you see that history laid out through several decades. You see how complex friendship can be, and the many faces people may wear as friends, but Adam dares to go deeper. You see those three girl’s lives intertwined with other souls in the town and you see the interweaving of those souls as well. Some people seem like the stereotypical “decent folks”. Other people betray the complexity of life through their actions, both good and bad. Adam writes about how easy mistakes can be and how the repercussions can last throughout a lifetime. Yet what resonates is not that there are “good” and “bad” people, but that we are more than the sum of what we do.
What I love the most about this novel is it’s honesty. It never feels contrived, even when the spirit of a white buffalo starts haunting someone. The characters all play out as very genuine, and the greater themes of small town identity, regret, aging, death, and starting over all get a fair shake. You’ve got small town Nebraska, a gold rush mystery, and Native American spirituality all weaving into a coming of age story about the choices that make us leave and the choices that keep us close. When I finished reading the novel I felt as if I’d just had tea with old friends and neighbors I hadn’t seen in a while, and I was so glad to have caught up on their lives.
If you like contemporary fiction that harks back to some of the great American narrative traditions, then this book is one you’ll enjoy reading. It’s got small towns, rural America, big potential and simple dreams: all the Americana with none of the pretense or cloying sweetness that can make the genre turn sour. I’m so proud and privileged to be a part of seeing it put into print.
***This review is not paid or coerced in any manner. I volunteered it because I believe in Adam’s project.