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From the Author

“After her father’s untimely death, Theresa faced a rocky and unstable childhood. But there was one place she felt safe: her grandmother’s house in Mason, a depressed former copper mining town in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Gram’s passing leaves Theresa once again at the mercy of the lasting, sometimes destructive grief of her Ojibwe mother and white stepfather. As the family travels back and forth across the country in search of a better life, one thing becomes clear: if they want to find peace, they will need to return to their roots. The Mason House is at once an elegy for lost loved ones and a tale of growing up amid hardship and hope, exploring how time and the support of a community can at last begin to heal even the deepest wounds.”


My Recommendation

I received this book as a gift from a friend and wasn’t sure what to expect. I grew up in Wisconsin, and now live in Michigan, so the culture of midwestern Native Americans has always interested me. This book takes place in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. T. Marie Bertineau is of Anishinaabe-Ojibwe and French Canadian/Cornish descent, which gives this author a unique perspective on life.

Bertineau connects her family, her childhood home, and her culture into a poignant memoir that expanded my knowledge of what life in the Upper Peninsula was like for a young girl growing up in the 1970s. The title refers to the house in the small town of Mason, a former mining town in the Keweenaw Peninsula, which belonged to the author’s paternal grandmother.

The book shares recollections of the author’s childhood where her parents’ alcohol use and other dysfunction made Theresa’s life a living hell. Yet, she finds comfort visiting her grandmother on the weekends.

I connected deeply to Theresa’s story, as my upbringing is based on similar circumstances. Just like Theresa, my grandmother was my guardian angel.

For that reason, I loved the stories of Theresa’s time with her grandmother the most. The two shared a powerful connection, built on the family lore and the mystique of the “Mason House,” the author’s second home. The Mason House and her grandmother are so interconnected that when her grandmother passes, the house never holds the same magic as it once did.

This is a story built from hardships and an unstable childhood. It is the narrative of perseverence, of growing up, and of coming full circle to embrace the women who made Theresa who she is today. Most of all, this is the story of family and acceptance. I laughed, and I cried. I think I grew up a little more, too. This was an excellent read!

Learn More About this Author

Born amidst the copper mining ruins of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, T. Marie Bertineau is a member of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community of the L’Anse Reservation, migizi odoodeman. Her work has appeared online with Minnesota’s Carver County Arts Consortium; in Mino Miikana, a publication of the Native Justice Coalition and Waub Ajijaak Press; and in the annual journal U.P. Reader. Her debut memoir The Mason House (Lanternfish Press, 2020) was named a 2021 Michigan Notable Book by the Library of Michigan. Married and the mother of two, she makes her home in Michigan’s Keweenaw. Learn more about this author and her writing HERE.


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