Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)


English/Creative Writing

First Advisor

Fanny Howe

Second Advisor

Askold Melnyczuk

Third Advisor

John Fulton


Eleven-year-old Thomas Jacobsen is kidnapped on a rural road outside of Dakota Falls, Minnesota in October 1991. His best friend, Aaron Wright, witnesses the abduction. In the days that follow, Dakota Falls' small, close-knit community is broke open by grief and suspicion. Aaron's single mother, school teacher, and baseball coach all try to preserve his sense of security. But when Aaron crosses paths with Thomas' menacing older brother, Colin, during a blizzard on Halloween night, the two challenge each others' understandings of how to survive in a threatening world and what it means to disappear.

Twenty years after the kidnapping, Aaron's fiancé moves out of their Minneapolis apartment, re-opening the wounds of absence and its legacy in his life. Aaron then receives a call from the father he has met only once before, reporting that the police have new leads in the Jacobsen case. Together, Aaron and his father return to Dakota Falls in search of answers from the town and from each other, aiding a forensic dig at Flaherty Farm--sight of the kidnapping--where the past and its secrets wait to be unearthed.

This collection also contains the stories "Sami the Poet" and "In Your Own Words."


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