It’s so easy to forget what it’s like to be a kid. Once we hit adulthood, or even, once we get beyond the discovery of newness–when things have gotten at all mundane–it’s easy to completely forget what it’s really like to be a child. To climb into your brother’s bed and hope that he lets you stay. To feel shame for the first time–to want to be a fox or a snake instead of a human. Among the complicated relationship of Irene America and her husband, Gil, Erdrich gives the recollection of genuine childhood. Irene and Gil have three children: Florian, Riel and Stoney–all geniuses in their own way. But then, all kids are genius–all kids are utterly creative until something tells them not to be. Irene is sick of her marriage–sick of her life, really–and begins keeping two diaries: one (the red diary), that she knows Gil “secretly” reads, and the other (the blue diary) that’s kept in a safe deposit box. Irene uses the red diary to manipulate Gil; and in some ways, it works. Gil is violent and jealous–his whole life is Irene; he paints portraits of her for a living. But Irene itches for deviance, escape, something beyond mundane.