University of Nebraska Press



Haven's Wake

Date of this Version



© 2013 by Ladette Randolph,675606.aspx


Early July, and the corn in eastern Nebraska stands ten feet tall; after a near-decade of drought, it seems too good to be true, and everyone is watching the sky for trouble. For the Grebels, whose plots of organic crops trace a modest patchwork among the vast fields of soybeans and corn, trouble arrives from a different quarter in the form of Elsa’s voice on her estranged son’s answering machine: “Your father’s dead. You’ll probably want to come home.”

When a tractor accident fells the patriarch of this Mennonite family, the threads holding them together are suddenly drawn taut, singing with the tensions of a lifetime’s worth of love and faith, betrayal and shame. Through the competing voices of those gathered for Haven Grebel’s funeral, acts of loyalty and failures, long-suppressed resentments and a tragic secret are brought to light, expressing a larger, complex truth.