Macavity award winner; a Booksense choice; chosen as a Community Read by the Bee Book Club (Sacramento, CA, 2001) and the San Juan Islands library system (2009); a People Magazine pick; Washington Reads award.
It was a framing hammer, its short, strong claws nearly flat compared with a standard claw hammer’s long curves, twenty-one ounces of drop-forged steel that was ‘too much hammer for a woman,’ according to the store owner. Rae, however, was a big woman, tall and broad-shouldered. Besides which, she liked the way the hickory handle fit her hand, liked the way the exploratory swings woke up the muscles all along her right side, from fingertip to jaw and down to her hip. By now, the hammer, like its owner, had seen hard use. Ten thousand nails had worn down the face and left a fine network of scratches over the head, but it still gave her strength, this tool that had stayed with her longer than anything, or anyone, else in her life. Husbands left or husbands died, daughters married avaricious jerks or daughters died, one’s very mind wandered in and out of control, but two handles later the twenty-one-ounce hammer still fit her hand, still nestled reassuringly along the line of her pelvis. She smoothed her thumb along its icy steel head, pulled on her jacket, and let herself out of the tent.