"THE SENTENCE is a novel that reckons with ghosts—of both specific people but also the shadows resulting from America’s violent, dark habits."
— Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Scintillating…More than a gripping ghost story, THE SENTENCE offers profound insights into the effects of the global pandemic and the collateral damage of systemic racism. It adds up to one of Erdrich’s most…illuminating works to date.”
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“The many-hued, finely patterned weave of Erdrich’s funny, evocative, painful, and redemptive ghost story includes strands of autobiography…Erdrich’s insights into what her city Minneapolis experienced in 2020 are piercing; all her characters are enthralling, and her dramatization of why books are essential to our well-being is resounding.”
— Booklist (starred review)
"Imaginative, boldly honest...This novel's persistent search for meaning reveals astonishing, sublime depths...Erdrich's prose, layered with unforgettable flourishes of detail...enhances and deepens this growing sense of a larger collective haunting....The Sentence
is a staggering addition to Erdrich's already impressive body of work."
“The irreverent and funny Tookie grapples with the ghost, then the pandemic, then the protests. Her journey, captured in Erdrich’s expert prose, is a cathartic and comforting story that book lovers will gobble up.”
— Real Simple
“Erdrich’s fictional worlds bristle with the awareness that we are all ghosts-in-waiting and that the written word is a way to communicate with people both long dead and not yet born. This is how Erdrich can write a haunting story without invoking even the slightest hint of the gothic; how she blends contemporary politics with myth without breaking a stride.”
— Jo Livingstone, The New Republic
“A bewitching novel…Strange, enchanting and funny: a work about motherhood, doom, regret and the magic—dark, benevolent and every shade in between—of words on paper.”
— Molly Young, New York Times
"THE SENTENCE is a wonder...an utterly original, exhilarating novel...that burns with moral passion, brims with humor, and captivates with its striking and irresistible voice...A testament to the life-making importance of stories."
— Priscilla Gilman, Boston Globe
“Among Erdrich’s most magical novels…The Sentence
is a ghost story that hovers between the realms of historical horror and cultural comedy…Moving at its own peculiar rhythm with a scope that feels somehow both cloistered and expansive, it captures a traumatic year in the history of a nation struggling to appreciate its own diversity.”
— Ron Charles, Washington Post
has a sometimes disconcerting you-are-there quality…though the events do amplify the novel’s themes of social and personal connection and dissociation, and of the historic crimes and contemporary aggressions, micro and overt, perpetuated in the name of white supremacy."
— Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“A deceptively big novel, various in its storytelling styles; ambitious in its immediacy…An absorbing and unquiet novel…that seems ‘essential’ for a deeper take on the times we are living through.”
— Maureen Corrigan, NPR
“As timely as it is unexpected: a pandemic ghost story, The Sentence
captures the quietly simmering fury of summer 2020…Tookie’s voice is genuine and humorous, her perspective rich with history and literacy.”
— Entertainment Weekly
testifies repeatedly to the power books possess to heal us and yes, to change our lives…There are books like this one, that while they may not resolve the mysteries of the human heart, go a long way toward shedding light on our predicaments. In the case of The Sentence
, that’s plenty.”
— New York Times Book Review
"This novel, with its spiky yet warm main character and homage to the world of bookselling and reading, is an utterly delightful read that doesn't shy away from 2020's misery and uncertainty."
"Dazzling...A hard-won love letter to readers and to booksellers, as well as a compelling story about how we cope with pain and fear, injustice and illness. One good way is to press a beloved book into another's hands. Read The Sentence
and then do just that."
— USA Today (four stars)
"No one escapes heartache in The Sentence
, but mysteries old and new are solved, and some of the broken places made stronger. The Sentence
, a book about the healing power of books, makes its own case splendidly."
— Tampa Bay Times
"Erdrich's playful wit and casual style belie a seriousness of purpose, which in the case of this winning novel, entails tackling the pandemic, the death of George Floyd, the trials of doing time in prison and not least, the power of books to change lives."
— New York Times Book Review, Editor’s Choice
sings when it traces how current events inflect Tookie’s connection to Pollux…Erdrich’s gifts—an intensity of honesty, a summoning of feeling that exhausts itself, deliriously, in images—are on full display here. The images reverberate because the feelings are true.”
— The New Yorker