I love any story by Sharon Butala. She is a native of Saskatchewan. And she lives and breathes the stories that she writes. This is a nonfiction book about friendship, memory, and murder. So, it is a story that will have you gasping for air while at the same time celebrating life in Saskatoon.
I love stories that focus on place, and this story is so much like that.
The story is set in 1961. It is about a country singer named Johnny Cash who chose a young beautiful woman named Alexandra Wiwcharuk to be his Girl in Saskatoon and sang to her in front of a hometown crowd.
A few months later, Alex was found murdered on the banks of the Saskatchewan River. Sharon Butala’s high school friend Alex had dreamed of becoming a glamorous stewardess. She had been crowned a beauty queen in local pageants, and she was about to graduate as a nurse.
Her killing brought an entire city to a quiet halt. Why was Alex’s murder so haunting? And why did Butala return some forty years later to reconstruct Alex’s life and search for answers?
Butala faces the horror of these long-ago events to create a lyrical portrait of a world where life appeared so much simpler, when young country girls like Alex came to the city and dreamed their dreams of love and marriage as life stretched before them.
This story is an in-depth investigation of an unsolved murder, a nostalgic coming-of-age story, an eloquent meditation on the nature of good and evil, and an affirmation of the true meaning of life.
I loved this book. And I will keep reading and re-reading it.