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Fiction Literary

Tears in the Grass

by (author) Lynda A. Archer

Dundurn Press
Initial publish date
Mar 2016
Literary, Contemporary Women, Native American & Aboriginal
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2016
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Mar 2016
    List Price

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Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Fiction — Shortlisted

For Elinor Greystone, the only way forward is back into the past.

At ninety years of age, Elinor, a Saskatchewan Cree artist, inveterate roll-your-own smoker, and talker to rivers and stuffed bison, sets out to find something that was stolen almost a lifetime ago. With what little time she has left, she is determined to find the child taken from her after she, only a child herself, was raped at a residential school.

It is 1968, and a harsh winter and harsher attitudes await Elinor, her daughter, and her granddaughter as they set out on an odyssey to right past wrongs, enduring a present that tests their spirit and chips away at their aboriginal heritage. Confronting a history of trauma, racism, love, and cultural survival, Tears in the Grass is the story of an unflagging woman searching for the courage to open her heart to a world that tried to tear it out.

About the author

Lynda A. Archer holds a MFA (fiction) in creative writing from Spalding University in Kentucky. Her short stories have been published in The Dalhousie Review, The Wascana Review, and The New Quarterly. Tears in the Grass is her first novel. Lynda lives on Gabriola Island in British Columbia.


Lynda A. Archer's profile page


  • Short-listed, Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Fiction

Editorial Reviews

Set in Saskatchewan in 1968, Tears in the Grass is a beautifully written, nuanced story of three generations of Cree women who have chosen different paths to find their place in the world.

Anne Patton, author of Full Steam to Canada and Through Flood and Fire

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and reluctantly left Elinor and company when I finished it. There is so much humanity, humour, and insight in this tale — not to mention the suspense; this is a page turner. Underlying forces are pushing and pulling, steering the characters toward a beautifully crafted resolution.

Clayton Jevne, artistic director Theatre Inconnu, theatre instructor University of Victoria

Tears in the Grass has a powerful relationship with time -- time flowing through three generations of women; time speaking through a museum buffalo; time racing against a long-separated mother and daughter; the timelessness of land and history. Archer’s bold prose, heartfelt characters, and imaginative plot weave a story of loss and redemption, trauma and healing, justice and remembrance. This lovely novel faces hard truths and ancient wounds, while illuminating corners of hope and solace. Read it and be uplifted.

Neela Vaswani, author of You Have Given Me a Country

Lynda's detailed and enthralling story-telling ability will have you captured from the very first page of the book. Her insight into the raw emotions and journey of each of the women is profound and endearing. These are the stories of strong, educated, successful, and compassionate modern-day Canadian Aboriginal women. These stories in many ways are contrary to the dominant stories of how Aboriginal women are portrayed in mainstream media; broken, drug-addicted, and unfit mothers. Lynda’s story of Tears in the Grass gives voice to the very real alternate stories of Aboriginal women in Canada. It is the sharing of [these] stories that will help shift the stereotypes of Aboriginal women and their families. I applaud Lynda for her time, dedication, and passion for the creation of Eleanor's story!

Chastity Davis, chair, Minister’s Advisory Council for Aboriginal Women

Archer…tells the story of these women with grace and charm…Readers will be compelled to keep turning the pages to find out what will happen next on Elinor’s grand adventure when she sets off to find her long-lost child.

Vancouver Sun

The treatment of Elinor’s Native spirituality, though risky, adds a convincing dimension to the characters that makes this a story not just about a Native family, but of them.

Ottawa Review of Books

This strong, lyrical novel is set in 1968, before … the movement towards recognition of Aboriginal rights.

Island Tides Magazine

In language that is vivid and compelling, Lynda Archer‘s Tears in the Grass tells the story of Elinor, Louise, and Angela, three generations of women, each having a secret that separates them from each other. Through an empowering journey to find Elinor‘s long-lost daughter, their secrets bring them closer together. This important story forces us all to look at our common history of racism and social injustice, but poignantly demonstrates that we can reach new understandings through compassion, forgiveness, and love.

Karen Mann, author of The Woman of La Mancha

An empathetic, gripping, and wise debut novel.