KICKDOWN by Rebecca Clarren
When Jackie Dunbar’s father dies, she takes a leave from medical school and goes back to the family cattle ranch in Colorado to set affairs in order. But what she finds derails her: the Dunbar ranch is bankrupt, her sister is having a nervous breakdown, and the oil and gas industry has changed the landscape of this small western town both literally and figuratively, tempting her to sell a gas lease to save the family land.
There is fencing to be repaired and calves to be born, and no one–except Jackie herself–to take control. But then a gas well explodes in the neighboring ranch, and the fallout sets off a chain of events that will strain trust, sever old relationships, and ignite new ones.
Rebecca Clarren’s Kickdown is a tautly written debut novel about two sisters and the Iraq war veteran who steps in to help. It is a timeless and timely meditation on the grief wrought by death, war, and environmental destruction. Kickdown, like Kent Haruf’s Plainsong or Daniel Woodrell’s Winter’s Bone, weaves together the threads of land, family, failure, and perseverance to create a gritty tale about rural America.