Requiem for Locusts
by Wendy Parciak


Two Canoe Press, 2008. ISBN 978-1-929590-08-7.
Reviewed by Jennifer Melville
Posted on 05/04/2009

Fiction: Mainstream

There are few books I have read where I stopped mid-paragraph and said, "Wow. This is really good writing." Wendy Parciak's debut novel Requiem for Locusts is one of them.

"Consider a street, any street, in a neighborhood," Parciak writes in her prologue, "Place this neighborhood in any town in any country in the world, or, for accuracy, place it in an affluent one, where the ties that bind people together have loosened and often broken apart... For simplicity, we will give the street a name. Let's call it Locust Street..."

Requiem for Locusts is the story of neighbors who know nothing about one another's lives but who are drawn together by a mentally handicapped young woman named Marzita. The residents of Locust street are multi-faceted and interesting characters. Each chapter is from a different character's point of view and it's truly fascinating to see how they see the world. Not one of the neighbors knows the others on a first-name basis and each lives very private, secluded lives. What is most powerful about this novel is that this could be any street, perhaps yours. How well do you know your neighbors? What sort of fascinating lives could they be living, that you are completely unaware of?

Everything changes when the Zaferatos family moves to town. They are circus performers and very loud, open, and inviting people. Yet what draws them all together is their strange daughter Marzita, a twenty-something woman who lives in a fantasy world in her head.

Reading this book was a real pleasure. I was enthralled by Parciak's characters and disappointed it had to end. I have a new appreciation for mental illness and the patience and love it requires from families. If there were only one thing I could say to Mrs. Parciak about her first novel it would be this: Brava!


Wendy Parciak has a Ph.D. in ecology from the University of Montana and has worked as a wilderness ranger and biologist for numerous state and federal agencies. She also studied cello at the Julliard School of Music. Parciak lives in Missoula, Montana with her husband, young son, and border collies. Requiem for Locusts is her first novel. Visit the book website.

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