The Turtle Warrior

Publisher Penguin/Putnam, February 2004

THE TURTLE WARRIOR is a work of fiction created from the layers of life in a surprisingly isolated region, a landscape of multiple ethnicities forgotten by most of America. In her gorgeous writing of the natural world, Ellis illuminates through fiction her deeply held belief that children like animals, in an effort to survive, instinctively seek from their physical environment and from others what their own families cannot provide; and that as the traditional Ojibwe have always known, wisdom and clarity can come from a turtle.

“THE TURTLE WARRIOR is a strong, bold novel that cuts a hard bargain between violence and forgiveness. Ellis writes about a family you’d never want to be a part of, but it is one you will never forget. An astonishing and eloquent debut by a writer you’ll hear from again.”
— Pat Conroy, author of The Prince of Tides and My Losing Season

“Like her literary predecessors Willa Cather and Sherwood Anderson, Mary Relindes Ellis vividly renders the isolated beauty of the American Midwest, yet her ultimate territory is the complex topography of the human heart. With an astonishing empathy that refuses limits–of good and evil, even of life and death–Ellis depicts her characters’ struggles to overcome the bleak promise of their circumstances. THE TURTLE WARRIOR is a remarkable novel.”
— Ron Rash, author of One Foot In Eden and winner of The Novello Prize in fiction.

THE TURTLE WARRIOR is filled with family secrets and devastating abuse, yet ultimately weaves an unexpected healing, one that springs not only from human compassion, but from an unexpected, supernatural source. With shining prose, Mary Relindes Ellis sweeps us into the perfectly rendered world of Northern Wisconsin and the engrossing lives of two brothers, their heartbreaking mother and the Native American neighbor who mediates the story’s redemption. This powerful novel will affect you deeply and linger long.
— Sue Monk Kidd, The Secret Life of Bees

The Turtle Warrior