Spirit Falls is a coming-of-age novel set in the late 1950’s on the empty and hardscrabble borderland between Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and northern Wisconsin. Ricky Belisle is a boy born to first-generation Americans who have migrated north to farm and hold land that cannot be taken away from them. They bring with them the beliefs, manners and stories of the homeland that they have not occupied and in so doing they create a disconnect in Ricky that forces him to begin the exploration that will eventually take him away from the land that has leached into his bones, that has given him the foundation for how he sees the world. Marie Jeanne Charbonneau, “M.J.”, a French-Canadian tomboy, is his best, his only, friend, who shows Ricky that the world is wider than he thinks and that much of life takes place in the space between the words. Their relationship sparks the hunt for truth within themselves. The gypsy-like refugee Marina Svetana, green-eyed, black-haired, beautiful and wounded, a fragment of war-torn Europe, arrives like a visitation of the spirit world. Her arrival is the beginning of Ricky’s journey. Ricky Belisle, Marie Jeanne Charbonneau and Marina Svetana find themselves on the eve of the winter solstice, the coldest, longest night of the year, set on a course that will last until the spring thaw brings with it a cascade of events that ends with Ricky carrying M.J. in his arms across the Great Bogus Swamp into the teeth of a 100 year Lake Superior storm. He wants only for her to survive this catastrophe and for him to find what it means to be a man. Ricky identifies with the land, the source of his strengths and weaknesses, requiring of him those things that he would not require of himself. He must learn to live with his fear of its darkness, to manage a homeland both harsh and sublime, and learn to leave behind the place both familiar and brutal. Ricky’s struggle is to sort out what role women play in his life, how an honorable man treats those who are weaker, and how a young mans knows truth––by what he is told or by what he feels.