Study Guide

Love Medicine Summary

By Louise Erdrich

Love Medicine Summary

The story hops around quite a bit from different time periods like a kangaroo stuck in a magic 80's phone booth, but we start out in 1981 following June Kashpaw's last day on earth. After meeting up with a stranger in a bar, hitting the town with him, and having an unsuccessful sexual encounter with said dude in his truck, she decides she's going to walk home to her family's place… even though it's night and there's a lot of snow on the ground. Dum dum dum.

The novel then picks up with Albertine Johnson, June's niece, who learns that June died that night. Albertine goes home to the Native American reservation where her family lives after her nursing courses for the year end, and there we start meeting some of the other players in the story, including Nector and Marie Kashpaw (Albertine's grandparents), Zelda (Albertine's mom), Aurelia (Albertine's aunt), Uncle Eli (Nector's brother/the guy who raised June), Gordie (June's husband), King (June's son), Lynette (King's wife), and King Junior (King's son, duh).

The story then starts hopping around to give us the back-story on all these people and their relationships. Beyond June's tragic story, we delve into the back-stories and love affairs of a wide range of people. In addition to the people already named, we meet Nector's parents and a woman named Lulu, who had had kids with several different men—including Nector.

Between the complexity of the family relationships going on here, rampant alcohol abuse, and other problems, there are heavy doses of heartache and drama here. However, you also get at least a couple of good love stories as well…

  • Section 1, Chapter 1

    • Section 1 is called "The World's Greatest Fisherman (1981)." Which: what? We thought we were in North Dakota… not exactly Deadliest Catch territory.
    • Oh, also, heads up: some of these chapters have titles and some of them don't. We don't know either.
    • When the book opens, the narration is given in the third-person. We meet June Kashpaw, "a long-legged Chippewa woman" who is walking down the street in Williston, North Dakota. It's the day before Easter Sunday, and she's waiting for a bus.
    • She and a guy sitting in a bar start eyeing each other through the bar's window. Even though she has to catch a bus soon, she decides to go in there and hang out with him for a while.
    • She and the guy, Andy, end up spending the night hanging out, and she forgets about taking her bus.
    • Then they drive out of town, and Andy starts putting the moves on her. However, he falls asleep before anything much can happen, and she manages to wriggle out of the car and starts walking.
    • Instead of walking back toward Williston, she decides to "walk home."
  • Section 1, Chapter 2

    Albertine Johnson

    • In this chapter, we pick up inside someone's brain—Albertine Johnson's, to be exact. She lives "far from home" in "a white woman's basement," and she is a nursing student.
    • She describes hearing about the fact that her Aunt June had died. Apparently, her mother had waited to write her until after the funeral. There's drama between the two of them, and her mother used that opportunity to get in a dig, saying that she figured Albertine couldn't get away from her studies anyway, so why rush to tell her about June?
    • We then get some background on June and Albertine's relationship with her. June was not her biological aunt, but Eli, Albertine's great-uncle, had raised her.
    • Two months pass without Albertine responding to her mother's letter, since she was mad that Zelda (that's the mama's name) didn't tell her about June in time for her to make it to the funeral.
    • We then get some background on their relationship and family.
    • Once Albertine's classes are done, she decides to go home (despite still being annoyed with her mom).
    • When she gets to the family house, she finds her mother and aunt (Aurelia) cooking. They all chat about the family (and other stuff) and continue cooking.
    • Then Albertine's grandmother and grandfather showed up, along with June's son (King), his wife (Lynette), and their son (King Junior).
    • Grandma, Zelda, and Aurelia start telling stories about June, including the time the kids (i.e., Zelda, Aurelia, and Gordie) tried to hang June as part of a game. They also discuss other family stuff, like June's life insurance and the fact that King used it for a new car.
    • Throughout this chunk of the book, we get a sense of the tensions and dynamics that are at play between King and Lynette, Lynette and the rest of the family, and so on.
    • Then Gordie and Eli show up. Gordie is driving, even though he's drunk.
    • Grandma, Aurelia, and Zelda eventually take off, but Albertine stays behind with the men and Lynette/King Junior. Albertine is under strict instructions to guard the pies that the women have been preparing all day, since they're for tomorrow.
  • Section 1, Chapter 3

    • Then Lipsha Morrissey shows up. He and King don't get along (oh, and King and Lynette don't seem like they're on great terms, either).
    • There's a lot of drinking going on as the evening progresses. The boys talk about fishing, and King gets emotional about his Uncle Eli.
    • King then leaves the room and apparently tries to get in the car. Gordie says he thinks it will be good for his son to get some air, but Lynette goes after him.
    • Everyone inside hears the couple arguing because Lynette won't let him have the keys to the car.
    • Apparently, she then gets into the car and locks it, and King gets so mad he starts breaking stuff trying to get in/express his rage.
    • So, Gordie and Albertine go out to see what's going on, and Gordie pries King off and wrestles him to the ground in a bear hug. With his face in the dirt, King starts crying about his mother and how awful it must be to be dead and buried—he talks as though he knows what it's like, with his face in the dirt.
    • After everything has cooled down, Eli and Gordie leave, and King, Lynette, Albertine, Lipsha, and King Junior are still there for the night.
    • Albertine and Lipsha go to lie outside in the field, drink, and stare at the lights.
  • Section 1 Chapter 4

    • Albertine starts to try to tell Lipsha a family secret—that Aunt June was Lipsha's mother—but she doesn't quite get it out. Lipsha thinks of Grandma Kashpaw as his mother, so he's not that interested in the topic, apparently.
    • Also, he had heard that his mother wanted to drown him, which is another reason he's not super interested in meeting her.
    • They sleep for a while and awake to the sound of clanging in the house. Immediately, Albertine knows that Lynette and King are fighting.
    • When they get there, she finds King trying to drown Lynette in the kitchen sink. To stop him, Albertine hits him over the head with a block of wood. It doesn't seem to deter him. Finally, she climbs on his back and bites his ear.
    • In all of the ruckus, the pies get ruined. Albertine yells at King for this crime (rather than, you know, trying to kill his wife).
    • Then Lynette and King make up and go have sex in their car just a little ways from the house.
  • Section 2, Chapter 1

    Marie Lazarre

    • Section 2 is called "Saint Marie (1934)," and we betcha this refers to Marie Lazarre.
    • Now we're inside Marie Lazarre's head. From the family tree at the front and the preceding narrative, we know that she's married to Nector Kashpaw, and she's Zelda (and Aurelia)'s mother/Albertine's grandmother.
    • This chapter gives us her memories of being a young girl of thirteen. Unfortunately, a nun named Sister Leopolda at the nearby convent (where Marie had gone to stay) had abused her during this time, doing things like pouring boiling water on her. Her reasoning? Satan was trying to take over Marie. Alrighty then—as long as you have a good reason…
    • In one incident, Sister Leopolda cuts Marie's hand, and when Marie wakes up, all the nuns were sitting there worshiping her. Apparently, Leopolda tried to pass that injury off as evidence of a miracle—that is, stigmata. Marie had played along—after all, as we learn at the beginning of the chapter, she had always wanted to be a saint.
  • Section 3, Chapter 1

    • This section is called "Wild Geese (1934)."
    • Now we're inside Nector Kashpaw's head, back in the same year of Marie's story. We hear about his life at that time and what he's like. He had been carrying some dead geese around on the day described. Ew.
    • We learn that up to that point he had been in love with Lulu Nanapush—actually, he was pretty obsessed with her. Until…
    • …Marie Lazarre had come running down the hill from the convent. Strangely, her hand was bundled up.
    • Since Marie came from a family of criminals and was running, Nector had assumed she was stealing stuff from the nuns. So, gallant creature that he was, he tried to stop her from continuing on her way.
    • In the tussle that followed, she ended up falling on top of him, and things shifted into the racy zone.
    • In a strange moment, suddenly Nector had abandoned his dreams of being with Lulu and was partnered up with Marie…
  • Section 4, Chapter 1

    • This section's called "The Island." Also, dang, but these sections are short.
    • Speaking of Lulu Nanapush, now we're inside her mind. We learn that at some point she had left her mother and come to live with her Uncle Nanapush, who was married to Aunt Rushes Bear. Apparently Lulu hated Rushes Bear and "plotted her downfall with a young girl's vigor." Hmm, what do you suppose that means?
    • We get more background on the family, including Rushes Bear's initial tension with Marie Lazarre.
    • Then we get the story of how Lulu ended up hooking up with Moses Pillager. Despite the fact that he was her cousin… and much older than her. Uncle Nanapush was against the match, but she went anyway.
    • Lulu ended up living on Moses's island with him, and they were together for a while afterwards. Lulu wanted to leave the island when she got pregnant, but Moses freaked out at the idea—apparently, he couldn't leave. So they stayed, while Lulu worried about how she would deliver out there.
  • Section 5, Chapter 1

    Marie Kashpaw

    • This section is called "The Beads (1948)"
    • Now we're checking in with Marie years later, after she had become Marie Kashpaw. We learn about how she had come to take care of June, who was her sister Lucille's daughter. Lucille had died alone out in the bush, and June had been left to fend for herself. She survived by eating pine sap, yum.
    • When she got delivered to Marie (by Marie's family and June's father), she was wearing rosary beads around her neck.
    • Marie had grown really fond of June, despite not wanting her at first. We get some more details about their family dynamics through the years, including Marie's efforts to keep Nector from drinking too much.
    • We also hear the story again about the time June almost got hanged. However, we get a lot more detail this time—apparently, June had been super annoyed that Marie interrupted the "game," calling her guardian some very nasty names. Apparently she had really wanted to be hanged…
    • June ultimately decided to go live with Uncle Eli. When she left, she finally left behind that rosary she had been wearing since her mother died.
  • Section 5, Chapter 2

    • We then get Marie's memories of her relationship with her husband's mother, Rushes Bear. As we know from Lulu's account, it wasn't very peaceful, at least initially—it seems that Rushes Bear was kind of a tough customer, and it took a while for her to warm up to people.
    • However, things seemed to improve when Marie stood up to her, and they found a kind of common ground in the fact that they both felt sad and lonely.
    • So, things thawed, and Rushes Bear helped Marie have her last baby. Fleur Pillager (Lulu's mother) came to assist as well. This experience further bonded Rushes Bear and her daughter-in-law, and Rushes Bear even went so far as to tell Nector that he was no longer her son (because he was kind of absentee/drunk, which made Marie's life harder); as far as Rushes Bear was concerned, she only had a daughter now (i.e., Marie).
    • Apparently, Rushes Bear had been particularly impressed that Marie endured a grueling birth without making a peep.
  • Section 6, Chapter 1

    • This chapter is called "Lulu's Boys (1957)."
    • We're back with Lulu, but now it's a third-person narration—and she's Lulu Lamartine.
    • We learn about some complex family dynamics that had been at play since we last saw her. After Moses, it seems that Lulu married someone named Henry Lamartine, but she became a widow when Henry committed suicide by stopping his car on the train tracks while he was still in it.
    • Lulu and Henry had had several children together, but it appeared that not all of them belonged to Henry (biologically speaking). In fact, it seems that Henry's brother, Beverly, was actually the father of Henry Lamartine, Jr., who was born nine months after Henry's death. Oooh, juicy gossip.
    • So, Lulu had eight boys, most/all of whom appeared to be from different fathers.
    • Anyway, at the point where this chapter picks up, years after Henry's death and Henry Junior's birth, Beverly Lamartine had decided he wanted to take Henry Junior back with him to the Twin Cities to live with him and his wife Elsa.
    • Without telling Elsa (or anyone else) this plan, he went to go visit Lulu, but instead of making off with their child, after reconnecting/reminiscing with Lulu, he ended up getting embroiled with her romantically yet again...
  • Section 7, Chapter 1

    Nector Kashpaw

    • We're now in a section entitled "The Plunge of the Brave (1957)."
    • Now we find out what Nector was doing while Lulu was getting wrapped up with Beverly Lamartine yet again.
    • Well, first we get some intel about what Nector was like as a young man. Apparently, he was such a smarty-pants stud that opportunities basically fell into his lap left and right.
    • Then we get some background on his relationship with Lulu when they were children, when they were virtually like brother and sister. And then how that evolved into lust. And then how he suddenly ended up with Marie…?
    • Apparently life just kind of got away from Nector from that point on, as he and Marie started having babies and he got lost in working to take care of them. Time just kind of flew by for years without him noticing.
    • Then, in around 1952, suddenly Nector kind of woke up and took stock of his life. He realized how much time had passed—and how changed he was.
    • Fortunately or unfortunately (it's hard to tell which), this realization coincided with him and Lulu getting thrown into the task of delivering butter around town together. At the end of their work on that front, they ended up having sex in her car.
    • For five years after that, they snuck around together. Or rather, Nector snuck around over to her place. Lulu had a baby during this time, which Nector assumes (but doesn't know for sure) is his. That baby was Lyman Lamartine, according to the family tree at the front of the book.
    • Then, in 1957, Beverly Lamartine showed up, and Lulu seemed like she might be thinking of marrying him.
    • That prospect freaked out Nector out so much that he contemplated leaving Marie. He decided that was impossible, so he resolved to abandon Lulu forever. And good thing, too, since the tribe (of which he was chairman) had decided to take away her land. Super awkward.
    • However, he soon lost his resolve on that front and decided he would leave Marie for Lulu. So, he wrote two notes: one to Marie to say that he was leaving, and one to Lulu announcing his intentions toward her. The date was August 7, 1957.
    • After writing the note, he locked it in his briefcase and went to bed with Marie.
    • When he got up in the morning, Marie was gone, and he left the note for her under the sugar. He went to go find Lulu at her house, but she wasn't there, apparently. While he was there, stressing out and looking for Lulu, he accidentally (he says it was an accident, anyway) set the house on fire with a half-smoked cigarette and the crumbled up ball of his letter to Lulu.
    • Then his daughter Zelda showed up to take Nector home as Lulu's house went up in flames.
  • Section 8, Chapter 1

    Marie Kashpaw

    • This part is called "Flesh and Blood (1957)."
    • On the same day that Nector was setting Lulu's house on fire. Marie had taken Zelda up to visit Sister Leopolda, who was apparently on her last legs. Apparently, Marie wanted to show off how strong and successful she was to the old nun, and she got dressed up in her best outfit for the occasion. On the way, she showed Zelda where she and Nector had met.
    • When they got to the convent, Sister Dympna opened the door, not recognizing Marie (even though she'd been there when Marie was a kid). She showed the pair to Sister Leopolda's room.
    • Despite the fact that Sister Leopolda was supposed to be super frail, and Marie was hoping to kind of show off, things turned sour pretty quickly. Leopolda made fun of Marie's fancy dress and just her life general. Suddenly, Marie was back on the defensive, and then things got heated. Meanwhile, Zelda just kind of looked on, confused.
    • Sister Leopolda had a big spoon that she banged on the iron bedframe to make an "unholy racket"—apparently this was her way of showing displeasure. Marie tried to get the spoon away, but the older woman was surprisingly strong, given her health.
    • Then Marie decided she had to steal the spoon. She concocted a plan to get it, but it went awry—she had planned to get it by kneeling down to accept the nun's blessing, but when it became clear that Sister Leopolda just planned to beat her with the spoon (for old times' sake, no doubt), they tussled.
    • Marie ended up having to give up her grip on the spoon, and she and Zelda then left.
    • On the way back, Zelda announced that perhaps someday she would join the nuns someday. Who knows why their most recent visit would inspire that desire, but somehow Marie wasn't surprised.
    • When they got back, Zelda went in the house and found Nector's note announcing he was leaving Marie. She gave the note to her mother.
    • While Marie was working through her feelings on the topic, she decided to peel every potato she had in the house. The activities of the house went on while she pondered what to do, and what the future held.
    • While she was waxing the floor, she heard Zelda bringing Nector home. She decided to put the letter back on the table, but under the salt (not the sugar, as it had been originally). She said she would never mention it to Nector… and just let him wonder if she had read it.
  • Section 9: Chapter 1

    • Welcome to Section 9: A Bridge (1973).
    • Now we're rejoining Albertine, but this time the narration is in the third-person.
    • It seems that she ran away from home, taking the bus to Fargo. However, she'd only had just enough money to get herself there… and beyond that, she didn't really have a plan.
    • While she was sitting in the bus station trying to come up with one, she spotted a good-looking soldier who looked like he could be Chippewa. She ended up following him out of the station.
    • It turned out that he was Henry Lamartine Junior, and he had recently been in Vietnam.
    • They spent the evening together and ended up back at a hotel together. Even though Albertine was quite a bit younger than Henry (fifteen), they ended up in bed together.
    • However, in addition to being drunk, Henry appeared to have some bad war memories that were intruding on his present, and so his behavior and perceptions appeared pretty erratic (to us and to her, we're sure) during the encounter. The next morning, when Albertine rolled over and touched Henry, he went ballistic. He ended up in tears.
  • Section 10, Chapter 1

    Lyman Lamartine

    • Here's Section 10: The Red Convertible (1974). Yeah, these sections are kind of like chapters, right?
    • Now we're inside Lyman Lamartine's mind. It seems that he and his brother Henry had owned a car together before Henry went off to war.
    • Lyman reminisces about life with Henry before he left… and then life after he returned from Vietnam. Apparently, Henry came back quite different.
    • In a ruse to get his brother interested in something, Lyman ended up banging up their mutually owned car. The plan worked: he managed to get Henry interested in working on the repairs.
    • Once the car was fixed, they took it out together. They seemed to have a nice time and ended up talking a bit.
    • Then, Henry decided to go jump in the river near where they had been sitting. And then suddenly he was gone.
    • Lyman went in after him, but apparently Henry was nowhere to be found. So, Lyman put the car in the water.
  • Section 11, Chapter 1

    Albertine Johnson

    • This section is named "Scales (1980)."
    • In this chapter, via Albertine's first-person perspective, we get some details about Gerry Nanapush and his wife, Dot.
    • Apparently Gerry had spent quite a bit of his life (roughly half) on the run from the police, so he'd periodically need to run away from dinner or some other event when a cop appeared. And every once in a while he'd get caught. And then he'd escape. And so the cycle continued.
    • Albertine worked with Dot in the "weigh shack" at a construction site. Things were a bit bumpy between the women at first, but they eventually became friends.
    • We should mention that Dot was pregnant during this time, and Gerry had been caught and thrown back in jail. Dot wasn't thrilled at the prospect of delivering their baby alone.
    • However, Gerry managed to escape and came back in time for Dot to go into labor. Dot disappeared from work for several days without any word about what was happening, and then one day Gerry came to get Albertine—Dot had asked for her.
    • They went to the hospital, and Gerry got to go in with Dot for a little while. When he came out, he seemed a bit traumatized.
    • While he and Albertine continued to wait, the cops showed up—and Gerry had to run once again. He jumped out the window from three stories up, but luckily he landed on a car below—the cops' car, actually.
    • Two weeks later, Dot and the baby, Shawn, were back at work with Albertine.
    • Some time later, they heard that Gerry had been caught—and he'd allegedly ended up shooting a state trooper during the capture. So, he was in prison in Marion, Illinois.
  • Section 12: Chapter 1

    • This bad boy is called "Crown of Thorns (1981)."
    • This chapter chronicles what had happened to Gordie in the wake of June's death. Apparently, he started drinking pretty heavily and got himself into a lot of trouble.
    • One day, when he was alone in his house toward sunset, he believed he saw June at the window and freaked out. He believed she was pounding on the glass trying to get in. (Since Gordie was a big drinker at this point, it seems likely that he was under the influence.)
    • He ran around trying to get the apparition to go away. Nothing worked, and he believed she was in the house, so he grabbed the car keys and left. He was going to town to get more alcohol.
    • While he was driving, he hit a deer. However, in his confused, drunken state, he came to believe that he had actually killed June. He put the carcass in the back seat of his car. At one point, the supposedly dead deer sat up in the back seat, and Gordie whacked her on the head to get her to lie down again.
    • Then the narrative shifts over to follow a Sister Mary Martin de Porres, who was up late playing her clarinet at around this time. Because it was pretty late, she was shocked when Gordie showed up at the convent claiming that he'd killed his wife and begging to confess to a priest.
    • When she went out to the car, of course, she was shocked to find that there was a deer in the back seat.
  • Section 13, Chapter 1

    Lipsha Morrissey

    • Title alert! This section is called "Love Medicine (1982)."
    • Now we're in Lipsha Morrissey's head. We learn that he has "the touch," which means he can use his fingers to cure certain sicknesses and ailments in other people.
    • Lipsha takes us through his grandpa's decline in health (as a result of dementia/Alzheimer's), and he mentions that his grandmother wanted Lipsha to try to use his "touch" on Nector.
    • He also recalls a day in which his grandfather disappeared (at this point, he and Marie were living in a retirement home). Lipsha had found Nector getting hot and heavy with Lulu Lamartine (who also lived there) in the laundry room.
    • But when Lulu's wig came off, that kind of stopped the party, and Lipsha was able to tear his grandfather away. He lamented that the big problem was not that Nector's mind was going, but that he was still so gaga over Lulu.
    • Grandma persisted in asking Lipsha to do something about Nector, suggesting the possibility of some kind of "love medicine." And Lipsha started to try to come up with something that would help.
    • At first, he thought about getting the hearts of two geese that had mated for life and feeding them to Nector and Marie, which would (hopefully) make Nector loyal to Marie for the rest of their lives.
    • However, he wasn't able to catch the two lovesick geese he had in mind, so he ended up getting some turkey hearts and taking them to the mission to get them blessed. However, the priest and nun he talked to there weren't down with this scheme, so he grabbed some holy water and did it himself.
    • When he and Marie tried to feed Nector's designated turkey heart to him, there was, er, an accident. Nector was messing around and refusing to swallow the heart, and so Marie smacked him on the back. However, instead of swallowing it, he choked. And died. If this is medicine, we think we'll take poison, please.
    • After running out to get help, Marie ran back in and fell herself. Then, Lipsha apparently fainted. What a mess, right?
    • A bit later, Lipsha woke up to find that his grandmother was still alive. Even though Marie had been close to death herself, the medical attention brought her back—and she was not happy about it. She was also apparently mad at Lipsha for his failed love medicine.
    • They soon discovered that Nector wasn't entirely gone—both Marie and Lipsha felt his ghostly presence. As a result, Marie decided that the love medicine had been more powerful than they initially thought.
    • In a moment of tenderness, Marie gave Lipsha her rosary beads. We have to assume these are the same beads that June left with her earlier—i.e., his mother's beads (although he didn't yet know that).
  • Section 14, Chapter 1

    • This is called "Resurrection (1982)."
    • In this chapter, we catch up with Marie after Nector's death. She spent a lot of time cleaning her house (apparently she'd gone home, and Aurelia was moving out).
    • One morning, Gordie showed up in her yard early in the morning. He collapsed there.
    • He awoke a couple of hours later and came inside. Marie, who had been sleeping as well, came out to talk to him.
    • Gordie really wanted something to drink, but Marie said she didn't have anything. He got aggressive, and Marie ended up defending herself with a knife, cutting his hand when he got too close. Now he and Marie both had hand wounds—and in a section called "Resurrection." Hmmm…
    • Then we veer off into Gordie's memories of June from the year they got married, particularly the little honeymoon they went on (and a couple of unsuccessful/disappointing attempts at sex during that vacay).
    • Back in the "present," Marie was standing outside on her porch when she suddenly smelled chemicals. She went inside to find that Gordie had been doing something with the Lysol can and a loaf of white bread. Apparently, he had been trying to ingest the Lysol (we're not entirely sure how the bread was involved).
    • He had started going nuts as a result of the chemical, knocking stuff over and jumping around. Finally, he collapsed on the bed, and his mother sat in front of the door and slept with an ax on her lap.
  • Section 15, Chapter 1

    Lulu Lamartine

    • Here we are in Section 15: The Good Tears (1983).
    • Back inside Lulu's mind, we get some of her thoughts on her many loves and children—and the various opinions people had about her "wild and secret ways." Apparently people were pretty judgy about her behavior with men, but she didn't seem to care.
    • Lulu also relays the story of a dead man she found in the woods near her playhouse when she was a child.
    • She thinks about her affair with Nector and the highs and lows of their romance, which ended when she decided to marry Beverly Lamartine.
    • She also remembers the day that Nector set her house on fire, when she had to crawl in to rescue the sleeping Lyman. The fire had burned all her hair off, which meant she had to wear a wig for the rest of her life.
    • She then describes what happened with her land there. Even though the tribe had been trying to force her off, she stayed put until they purchased her a better lot to live on.
    • She thinks about her kids, including Gerry and Henry (and how the war changed the latter). She also thinks about the day Henry Junior died. She knew that Lyman was lying when he said their car had veered off into the water, but she didn't press him on it. She also mentions having her final child, Bonita—her first girl.
    • When she started losing her vision, she ended up at the "Senior Citizens," the same retirement/nursing home where Nector was living. We get the incident in the laundry room from her perspective, as well as other details about their interactions during that period.
    • Apparently, after Nector died, and Lulu had just had an operation down in Grand Forks, Lyman finally asked her if Nector was his father. She didn't respond, and he decided he didn't really want to know.
    • Lulu also mentions that Nector had visited her after his death.
    • When Lulu required assistance after her operation, she applied for an aide, but the home was too overextended to give her one. So, Marie offered to take care of her, and the two ladies bonded as a result. After all, they were mourning the same dude.
  • Section 16, Chapter 1

    Howard Kashpaw

    • This section is entitled "Crossing the Water (1985)."
    • Now we're following the perspective of Howard Kashpaw, King and Lynette's toddler son. However, this chapter remains in the third person rather than beaming directly into Howard's mind.
    • During the time described in the chapter, Howard was listening to his parents talk. According to his father, someone had escaped from somewhere. Apparently, this was bad news—King thought he was now "sunk."
    • We then get some background on how Howard went from being known as "King Junior" to being Howard. Since he was very bright, he had just asked his teacher to call him that, and apparently she agreed. Another fun fact: he had learned how to read from Sesame Street.
    • We learn about various aspects of Howard's home life with his parents, who apparently argued a lot. And one time, someone had come to arrest King.
  • Section 16, Chapter 2

    Lipsha Morrissey

    • Apparently, Lipsha sought advice from King when he decided to enroll in the military… and immediately regretted it. King had warned him that the military would not let up on him until he did his duty.
    • When Lynette asked why he had done it (enrolled, that is), Lipsha said he had thought his mother would have wanted him to do it. He had recently found out that June was his mother.
    • We quickly learn that Lulu had been the one to tell him about June—and the fact that she herself (Lulu, that is) was his grandmother. Gerry (her son) was Lipsha's father.
    • Upon getting this news, he had snuck into Marie's apartment and stolen some money that she had purposely told him was there (and she let him do it, pretending to be asleep).
    • Then he rode a bus until he got to a border town. He was pretty ashamed of having stolen from his grandmother. He went into an army recruiting station and signed up.
    • He immediately regretted that decision and wanted to run away. Also, he decided it was time to meet his dad. He had had a sixth sense kind of feeling that his dad was about to bust out of prison, so the timing seemed about right…
    • So, he ended up in the Twin Cities looking up Lynette and King. Despite the fact that his hosts weren't super thrilled with his presence, Lipsha had every intention of staying for dinner (with or without an invitation). He eventually helped himself to some cereal, when that full meal didn't come about.
    • He continued to chat with King when Lynette left to watch TV. They started playing cards.
    • Eventually, Lipsha turned the conversation to Gerry, and for some reason King got increasingly irritated.
    • Then, the news came on the TV announcing that Gerry had escaped. Lipsha was pleased and cheered, but King and Lynette were not happy.
    • They sat there for hours, and then Lipsha heard the sound of someone climbing up the pipes outside. Eventually, Gerry climbed in the window of the skylight shaft and into King's apartment.
  • Section 16, Chapter 3

    • Upon arriving and sitting down to play cards, Gerry told Lipsha that King had been the informer that ratted him out. Ah, guess that explains why he wasn't happy to hear Gerry was out, eh?
    • Lipsha was soon totally sure that Lulu was right and Gerry was his dad, noting that Gerry had a form of the same "touch" that he had.
    • They heard Lynette try to call the police in the next room, but the phone line had apparently been cut.
    • The men set the stakes of their poker game. Lipsha decided they should play for King's car—the one we saw at the very beginning of the book, which he had bought with June's insurance money.
    • Of course, Lipsha had been cheating at cards throughout the night, so he had this one in the bag. He dealt himself a royal flush. So, for those of you who haven't spent a lot of time in the casino, he definitely won.
    • He was offering to drive Gerry wherever he wanted with his new car when the police showed up. However, Gerry fled before the police got in, since little Howard was the one who went running to the door to answer it.
    • He had thought they were coming to arrest King, and he was apparently eager for them to take King away, so he unlatched the door as quickly as he could… he was just a little too short to reach easily.
  • Section 16, Chapter 4

    • Lipsha went out to his new car and drove it off. Along the way, he started hearing some thumping. He ignored it at first.
    • However, eventually he stopped as the thumping got more insistent. When he opened the trunk, he found Gerry hidden there, almost out of breathing air.
    • At Gerry's request, Lipsha drove him up toward the Canadian border (this time with Gerry in the car, natch). Along the way, they chatted. They talked about whether Gerry was actually guilty of killing that trooper, but Lipsha stops short of revealing exactly what Gerry told him.
    • Although they never outright acknowledged being father and son, Gerry said that he knew Lipsha wouldn't have to worry about the military after all—once he did his medical exam, he claimed, they would find the same heart condition that Gerry himself had.
    • After dropping his father off, he drove away toward home. When he was going over the bridge of their boundary river, he stopped and got out, thinking about his family. He got out his grandmother's handkerchief.
    • He then got back in the car, resolving to "bring her home." It's left ambiguous exactly what exactly that means…