This week’s other featured books, “Reinventing Jenna Rose,” by Joni Marie Iraci, and “The Buddha’s Bone,” by Leilani Stewart, can be found by scrolling down below this post, or by clicking the author’s name on our Authors page.
THE BOOK: The Mason House.
PUBLISHED IN: 2020
THE AUTHOR: T. Marie Bertineau.
THE EDITOR: Christine Neulieb.
THE PUBLISHER: Lanternfish Press
Lanternfish Press, founded in Philadelphia in 2013, publishes literature of the rare and strange: fiction that crosses the boundary between literary and speculative; real or imagined tales of characters at the margins of history; essays rooted in a strong sense of place; a cabinet of curious Victorian reprints. We seek the grotesque, the alien made familiar, the “I don’t know what this is—but I love it.”
SUMMARY: After her father’s untimely death, Theresa faced a rocky and unstable childhood. But there was one place she felt safe: her grandmother’s house in Mason, a depressed former copper mining town in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Gram’s passing leaves Theresa once again at the mercy of the lasting, sometimes destructive grief of her Ojibwe mother and white stepfather. As the family travels back and forth across the country in search of a better life, one thing becomes clear: if they want to find peace, they will need to return to their roots.
The Mason House is at once an elegy for lost loved ones and a tale of growing up amid hardship and hope, exploring how time and the support of a community can at last begin to heal even the deepest wounds.
THE BACK STORY: The Mason House was born of two reasons: first, because I was experiencing a period of grief and transition in my life, and I wanted to do something positive to help me navigate that. The second was that it had been my life’s dream to pay tribute to my Cornish grandmother in some way because she had meant so much to me, not only during our short time together, but throughout my life. Those two elements came together at exactly the right space in time, and that’s how The Mason House came to be.
Writing the manuscript itself became a healing journey for me. The first draft took about a year to write—a year filled with the emotion of memory. I didn’t expect to experience all that through the writing of the story, but I’m glad I did. I discovered it was exactly what I’d needed all my life—to process the events of childhood and finally come to understand how those events impacted me as an individual and my family as a whole.
WHY THIS TITLE?: The Mason House was the working title of the book. It was the heart of the book. But I knew I would most likely have to part with it once I signed with a publisher. When I did sign with Lanternfish Press, I braced for the news. Lo and behold, one day my publisher contacted me to say they felt “The Mason House” was the perfect title for the book and asked how I felt about keeping it. Of course, I was thrilled!
WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? The Mason House is a story about family. And all that “family” entails. It’s a book about healing, about hope and perseverance, and about learning forgiveness. It’s also a story of connecting with one’s cultural identity, and how that can bring about a sense of peace and acceptance in our lives. It’s a full-circle story, much of it centered in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in the 60s and 70s.
The Mason House was named a 2021 Michigan Notable Book by the Library of Michigan. It is also the recipient of the 2021-2022 Stuart D. and Vernice M. Gross Award for Literature as presented by Saginaw Valley State University.
“A powerful celebration of the ties that bind us and eccentric, laugh out loud moments of love, grace and what it means to be kin.” —Tiffany Midge, Author of Bury My Heart at Chuck E. Cheese
“Written in prose that is both stark and lyrical as well as intrinsically intertwined with the landscape of the homeland, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, “The Mason House” is an engaging and heartening read.” —Linda LeGarde Grover, Author of In the Night of Memory (Special to the Star Tribune)
“Touching and authentic.” —Faith Sullivan, author of Good Night, Mr. Wodehouse
“In this graceful and moving memoir, Bertineau offers a series of stories about love, tenacity, resilience, and hope . . . The Mason House manages to capture the intimate striations of multi-generational trauma without ever losing its humor or hope, even as it paints an intimate and complicated portrait of life in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.” —M. Bartley Seigel, author of This Is What They Say
AUTHOR PROFILE: I’ve lived in numerous locations throughout the country, but no matter where I roam, home remains Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It’s where my history begins and my roots run deepest.
As an Anishinaabe and a Michigander, I hold close the gifts of nature in our beautiful region. This includes a love and respect for all our Great Lakes, but Lake Superior especially, whose waters have always been a part of my life. My concern for the waters, land, and wildlife in the state has served to strengthen my connection with my Indigenous community. Together we strive to bring awareness to the industrial and climate-related perils our waters face. We also work to preserve biodiversity in our woodlands, including the preservation of our peninsula’s healthy wolf community.
At home, you’ll find me at work with my cat at my side, where my keyboard often shows signs of construction dust. Our tiny residence is in a constant state of renovation and repair. Long live old homes!
Catch my latest writing venture, “Hankies in My Pocket: Tender Thoughts from the Keweenaw,” a quarterly online column at https://carrotranch.com/author/bertsbees/, home of Carrot Ranch Literary Community.
AUTHOR COMMENTS: The Mason House touches on the issue of Indian residential schools. The book was published before the verification of hundreds of unmarked residential school graves throughout Canada. At this writing, residential school sites in the U.S. remain to be examined. May the remains of each precious spirit be recovered by their birth communities, where they may be honored and, at long last, find peace.
LOCAL OUTLETS: Snowbound Books, Marquette, MI: https://www.snowboundbooks.com/book/9781941360439.
Birchbark Books and Native Arts, Minneapolis, MN. https://birchbarkbooks.com/products/the-mason-house?_pos=1&_sid=3649ea405&_ss=r.
Grandpa’s Barn, Copper Harbor, MI: https://bookshop.org/books/the-mason-house/9781941360439?aid=14742&listref=grandpa-s-barn-book-club-2021.
North Wind Books at Finlandia University, Hancock, MI:https://bookstore.finlandia.edu/collections/midwest/products/the-mason-house
The Well Read Raccoon Books & Curiosities, Houghton, MI: https://bookshop.org/books/the-mason-house/9781941360439?aid=54481&listref=raccoon-favorites-best-sellers
Schuler Books, Grand Rapids and Okemos, MI: https://www.schulerbooks.com/book/9781941360439
WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Apple Books, Kindle, Nook, Barnes & Noble, Amazon.
CONTACT THE AUTHOR: Connect with me! Website: https://www.tmariebertineau.com/ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/t.mariebertineau/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tmbertineau Twitter: https://twitter.com/tmariebertineau