Christine Davis Merriman’s debut novel, At the Far End of Nowhere, immediately transports the reader to the journey of Lissa, a girl of the 1950s. Merriman expertly balances the tumultuous cultural and political shifts of these decades alongside the smaller, but no less significant, transformations of Lissa’s life.
When we are first introduced to Lissa, she is a child, navigating her life under the wing of her protective father, Stouten. He teaches her about his version of the world and its magic with tales from his childhood. “The world is not always safe,” Lissa affirms, “except when my daddy takes me back with him to once upon a time, where everything is magical and you can make true whatever you want it to be. He takes me with him to the far end of nowhere, where everything begins.”
Lissa grows into a young woman as the novel progresses, and Merriman manipulates the changes in Lissa’s vocabulary and interests with ease. Even when the events of Lissa’s life become devastating, as she deals with sexual abuse, the death of her mother, and the job of caring for an elderly Stouten, Merriman effortlessly maintains Lissa’s grounded and open, and, perhaps most importantly, hopeful voice.
Despite many big moments in the book, the novel has a quiet tone, thanks in part to Lissa’s voice, but also to the literary quality of the writing. It almost feels as though we readers take the path of this novel through the found journals of Lissa, wherein there is very little dialogue and a great deal of introspection, wide pastured-settings, and, of course, magic tales. By the final pages of At the Far End of Nowhere, we readers are surprised to find how deeply we root for Lissa, as well as how deeply she has taken root within us.
__Raquel Vasquez Gilliland, author of Dirt and Honey