Duclos-Yourdon, Jamie. “Froelich’s Ladder”, Forest Avenue Press, 2016.
Nursing a Grudge
You might want to read the following sentence a few times. “When Froelich disappears from the fourth-tallest ladder in the world, his nephew’s quest to find him interlaces with the journeys of two spunky young women who outwit their guardians”. I believe it is safe for me to assume that you have no idea what that says. It might take a while until you do but when that times comes you will realize that you are having a unique reading experience. We are in a different Wild West then we learned about in school. This one is populated with immigrants, Civil War veterans, , a circus and murderers as we begin to understand that this is a fairy-tale twist on the American dream that looks at conflicts between loyalty and ambition, and the need for connection.
Uncle Froelich has been dealing with an old family grudge from his perch atop a giant ladder. When he is discovered missing, his nephew sets out on a journey across the nineteenth century Pacific Northwest landscape to find him. With him is a girl and together they face everything from Confederate assassins, European expatriates to a general store magnate. We have many eccentric characters in this very tall tale set in the Oregon territory. We get something of a lesson in Oregon history (of which I know nothing— it is hard enough keeping up with my own history) and at the same time, we experience the unexpected. (Knowing nothing about the Oregon territory, I may get this all-wrong but it makes no difference since it is a fairy tale and a lot of fun).
This is more than just an ordinary fairy tale; it is also a look at independence and solitude and it is very, very clever and very, very irreverent. I do not remember ever reading anything quite like this. Filled with both realism and magic, we get quite a cast of characters who give us quite a story. We meet spies and industrialists and get a new view of history that begins with two brothers spending their lives taking care of humongous wooden ladder just so that their uncle Froelich can live safely on top of it. When he suddenly disappears, the brothers realize that have only known him as someone who lives in the sky and has demands on them.
This is also a look at the American dream and how the characters go about attaining it (or not). I wish I could find more words to describe this book but Jamie Duclos-Yourdon beat me to it. This is one you will have to experience yourself.