For young dreamers who long to escape the sleepy town where they grew up for a more exciting and fulfilling life, the question of roots versus wings is a constant internal struggle.

Author Carrie La Seur tackles this familiar trope by weaving an elegant thread of Shakespeare and poetry throughout her sophomore novel, The Weight of an Infinite Sky.

Anthony Fry is the product of several generations of ranchers. His family’s name is respected in Montana and, as the only son to Dean and Sarah, it’s expected he will one day take over the family business.

When Anthony chooses to move to New York City to pursue a career in the arts, the ripple effect is felt not only by his immediate family, but by the community. Heads turn and spines stiffen the day Anthony returns home to take a job at a theatre camp for kids. The big city has been cruel to the budding artist and after three years away, Anthony has nothing to show for his acting career.

And the timing couldn’t be worse. After losing his father to a freak horse-riding accident, Anthony knows his mother is going to pressure him into staying in Montana and take over the running of the ranch.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, especially when there is no money in the bank. Anthony steels his mind with alcohol, does his best to wrestle with his emotions and counts down the days until camp is over so he can return to being a penniless player in New York.

Unfortunately, old memories and bad decisions come back to haunt him the minute he returns home. His cheerful cousin is now a brooding cowboy. His long-time crush is working on saving her marriage. Anthony’s uncle, Neal, is pressuring his mother to sell the family’s land to miners, and Anthony can’t shake the feeling his dad’s death wasn’t accidental.

Through a cloud of booze and lines from Shakespearean plays, Anthony stumbles his way through the startling details of a family crisis and the town drama. People who have known Anthony his entire life stand by him because they understand that his cavalier attitude is actually a façade to cover the pain of heartbreak.

The Weight of an Infinite Sky is a leisurely Western, full of nuanced characters.

Anthony teaches readers that the weight of expectations and the pull of one’s dreams can sometimes find a healthy middle ground. We only have to open our minds to the possibilities.

The Weight of an Infinite Sky

Carrie La Seur (R342)

William Morrow