Henriksen's gorgeous settings and multilayered plot enrich the story. This is an inspiring, feel-good tale . Publisher's Weekly
In the shadow of the Great Depression, long before historical changes leading toward LGBTQ advocacy, Ruth Thompson defies her family's expectations that she marry Duke, her long-time sweetheart. Instead, she joins a rodeo circuit with her cousin in order to earn money for college and comes of age in the male-dominated culture of rodeo competition.
After returning home to Minnesota, Ruth resumes her familiar relationship with Duke. Once at college, her safe existence is upended when she meets free-spirited Gisela, and further unravels when the two women fall in love.
The lives of Ruth, Gisela, and Duke entwine while Ruth embarks on a journey of self-discovery, full of dangerous social repercussions that takes her from Minnesota to the California coast. As WWII escalates, each faces a test of their fortitude, and Ruth must finally find a way to defy social backlash or lose the woman she loves.
Both heart wrenching and uplifting, The Winter Loon honors the strength and spirit of all who struggle with social persecution because of who they love and how they define family whether it is their own flesh and blood kinfolk and/or those nearest and dearest to their heart.
2017 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards Winner in LGBT Category
2019 Colorado Independent Publishers Association first place winner in LGBT Category
Golden Crown Literary Society Finalist in two categories: Debut Novel and Historical Fiction
Women's Fiction Writers Association Star Award finalist Debut Category
Henriksen's luminous debut, inspired by the life of her mother, follows a young woman as she comes of age during the Great Depression and WWII. A gifted horsewoman, 18-year-old Ruth Thompson leaves Lake Minnetonka, Minn., and her beau, Duke, in 1931 to earn college tuition money working as a "gypsy cowgirl" in the rodeo. For Ruth, rodeo life is filled with freedom and adventure--and it's also where she meets Rollie, a woman who begins Ruth's sexual awakening. Eight months later, she returns home and leaves for college, where she goes through the motions, living in a sorority house with rigid rules and attending social events with Duke, but soon realizes she doesn't fit in. When she meets another student, Gisela--French-educated, exotic, and beautiful--Ruth is smitten and they fall in love. Facing the inevitable breakup with Duke, a suspicious housemother, and fear of stigma and rejection by her family, Ruth falls into a severe depression. But the narrative ultimately takes a powerful, life-affirming turn. Henriksen's gorgeous settings and multilayered plot enrich the story. This is an inspiring, feel-good tale.