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“THE DRAGONS OF ALSACE FARM,” by Laurie Lewis, Willowsport Press; $15.95, 376 pages (f)

Noah Carter has built a live that’s been a safe haven as he’s worked to heal from betrayals and an abusive upbringing, in the opening of “The Dragons of Alsace Farm.”

When his dying Uncle John tracks him down, Noah goes to visit in an attempt to reconcile his uncle’s previous betrayal. Uncle John has a few requests for Noah. First, he wants Noah to help out on Alsace Farm, which belongs to his ailing neighbor Agnes Deveraux Keller, a French World War II survivor with dementia. Second, he wants Noah to help build a deck for a veteran’s family, when the family wins a contest through the local Chamber of Commerce.

Noah begins to build a friendship with Agnes. As they take care of the animals (no dragons here) on the farm, he learns they’ve both had painful losses and secrets they closely guard.

After Agnes’ estranged daughter’s death, her granddaughter, Tayte, moves in. Tayte’s memories of her grandmother and the farm are different than the forgetful woman she seems to be constantly at odds with now.

Unique items in the attic raise questions about Agnes’s family, and Tayte wants answers, which strains their relationship. Agnes is determined to hang on to her independence,

As Noah attempts to navigate the emotional issues and each one’s past “dragons” at Alsace Farm, he faces losing his Uncle John and coming to terms with his own past.

Maryland author Laurie Lewis’s main characters all have some sort of pain or loss that complicates their situation and shows how fragile and emotional relationships can be. “The Dragons of Alsace Farm” also explores choices and attitudes in the wake of consequences, with unexpected twists.

There is no swearing. There are some general references to a sexual assault and past abuse, but none of it is detailed.

“The Dragons of Alsace Farm” is a Whitney Award finalist in the general fiction category. The awards recognize fiction by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.



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