The Big Rock Candy Mountain by Wallace Stegner:
This is a beautifully written novel, large in scope, rich in emotion and ideas, and one I'll remember for a long time. It is the heartbreaking saga of a family during the first third of the 20th century. The narrative does not dwell on history except to place the events of the story in context. So we know that prohibition is going on, WW1 is going on, and the Great Depression is going on, but they serve mostly as the backdrop to the wild and challenging life of Bo Mason and his family. Stegner's writing is spare yet so descriptive of both the expansive settings of Western North America and the complex personalities of the characters that every scene came alive with detail. All five of my senses got involved and I was transfixed until the very end. There are lessons to be learned along the way, and it is not an easy story to read, but in my opinion, well worth the effort.