A request from an old family friend lures Madeline Stone from her stale life as a Chicago waitress to Lake Superior’s coast. McAllaster, Michigan, is only 500 miles from home, but to Madeline, who just lost her adoptive mother, the landscape feels further from anything she’s experienced before: Icebergs bob and waves lash a town that time forgot.

As she cares for a sweet elderly woman—and butts heads with the woman’s stubborn sister—Madeline discovers the town hasn’t forgotten her. Nor has it forgotten the young, wild mother who abandoned her. Madeline learns bit by bit of her family’s connection to the land—and to the shuttered Hotel Leppinen, which she is sneakily using as a nighttime painting studio.

South of Superior is a story about home, what people are willing to fight for, the weight of friendships and continued ambition. Despite Madeline’s move to a one-stoplight town, she never stops dreaming: She wants to sell paintings, illustrate books and run a destination hotel. A romantic storyline takes a backseat to allow for Madeline’s self-actualization, and it’s a treat to read a book starring such a stirring female lead. Ellen Airgood, who has spent the last 19 years in the Upper Peninsula, knows small-town life and portrays its positive and negative aspects with affection and feeling. Readers will tear through this engrossing story.

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