Presented at the former Calgary Chamber of Commerce by Calgary Reads Big Book Club
Eighty-two-year-old Etta has never seen the ocean. So, early one morning she takes a rifle, some chocolate, and her best boots, and begins walking the 3,232 kilometres from Saskatchewan to Halifax. Her husband, Otto, wakes to a note left on the kitchen table. I will try to remember to come back, Etta writes to him. Otto has seen the ocean, having crossed the Atlantic years ago to fight in a faraway war. He understands. But with Etta gone, the memories come crowding in, and Otto struggles to keep them at bay. Russell has spent his whole life trying to keep up with Otto and loving Etta from afar. He insists on finding Etta, wherever she's gone. Leaving his own farm will be the first act of defiance in his life.
As Etta walks farther toward the ocean, accompanied by a coyote named James, her past and present blur. Rocking back and forth with the pull of the waves, Etta and Otto and Russell and James moves from the hot and dry present of a quiet Canadian farm to a dusty burnt past of hunger, war, passion, and hope; from trying to remember to trying to forget.
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