Return to Abo
by Sharon Niederman

University of New Mexico Press, 2005. ISBN 978-0-826-33720-7.
Reviewed by Susan J. Tweit
Posted on 06/10/2015

Fiction: Mainstream

If you're looking for a novel about interesting women set in a starkly beautiful part of rural New Mexico, Niederman's first novel won't disappoint. It's another journey story: Maggie, who grew up on a hard scrabble ranch in central New Mexico, the girl who made good as a journalist in faraway San Francisco and then lost heart for her work and ultimately, her stellar job, comes home for the funeral of her mother's ranch foreman, Elias, the father figure of her childhood. Maggie ends up staying to care for her mother (who of course does not want Maggie's help) and for the ranch itself.

The crackling energy of the characters makes Return to Abo a good read: Maggie's punk and multiply pierced teenage daughter, who arrives after being kicked out of the prep school her father enrolled her in; Maggie's lost high-school love, the Mayor of the small town; and the wonderfully eccentric and resilient collection of old ladies who form Maggie's mother's bridge group; and the spare and entrancing New Mexico landscape itself.

Sharon Niederman is an award-winning Southwestern author and photographer living in northern New Mexico. She specializes in cuisine, travel, history, women's history, and spirituality. Her 2012 book, Signs & Shrines: Spiritual Journeys Across New Mexico, received the prestigious Lowell Thomas Travel Writing Award and the Society of American Travel Writers Gold Award. She serves on the board of the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum and is past president of New Mexico Press Women and the New Mexico Jewish Historical Society. Visit her website.

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