By Miriam Toews
Miriam Toews is a gifted writer. She has a way of taking broken lives, broken characters, and treating them with dignity and sensitivity. This holds true for Irma Voth.
Irma is a Mennonite who moves from Canada to New Mexico with her family. In New Mexico, Irma meets and marries a Mexican man. Her family disapproves, but allows them to live and farm a parcel of the family land.
The cultures are too different. While Irma is committed to her marriage, her husband is not. He has other things that he is into, including illegal dealings. He ends up leaving Irma alone to make her own way in the world. Being true to herself has caused Irma much pain and unhappiness. She also feels she has let loved ones down.
Irma Voth’s redemption is in finding a place for herself in the world, and usefulness for the gifts she has. In doing this, she is able to not only find herself but to forgive herself, as well.