Book Review | Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler

book cover Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas ButlerBeing a Wisconsin native, I was looking forward to Shotgun Lovesongs, a book taking place in Wisconsin, written by a fellow Wisconsinite and alum of my alma mater. Truth be told, having grown up in Milwaukee I couldn’t relate to this small town tale and at page 65 I was trying to decide whether to continue reading or quit the book. I kept reading and the book did get a bit more interesting. The book focuses on a group of friends who grew up together in a small town south of Eau Claire. After high school they went their own ways – one took over the family farm, one a traveling rodeo star, a mainstream musician, a big city broker, and the lovely girl next door. The book begins as the characters drift back to their hometown and experience challenges of adulthood – marriage, money troubles, divorce, and bites from the past.

Other readers have praised the big heart and love that shines through in the text. Sure the love does show among these tight knit friends, but the book just wasn’t that special. That said, Butler does paint a positive picture of small town Wisconsin and I do think this book would be very appealing to readers from small towns who can relate better to a small cast of characters. The struggles do seem realistic, but in a way they are all glazed over since the book seems to be more about the big picture. If you’re still interested in this homegrown Wisconsin novel, give your local library’s copy a try. By the way, the musician character is loosely based on Bon Iver.

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About amy de simone
Amy is an active volunteer, traveler and photographer. She is interested in art, libraries, museums and nonprofits. She holds an M.A. in Library & Information Studies and a B.A. in Italian Language & Literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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