Many, many things happen in Miriam Toews's slim new novel—drug dealing, a shotgun wedding, filmmaking, filicide, teenagers running away, political protests—and all of them happen in a year of the life of Irma Voth, a 19-year-old Mennonite living in Mexico.
The Voth family, headed by a bullishly strict father, live in Manitoba until the death of Irma's older sister prompts their move to an isolated Mennonite community in the Chihuahua desert. The isolation isn't sufficient, however, to prevent Irma from meeting and marrying the delinquent and forgettable Jorge. Irma's father disapproves of the marriage. He stops speaking to Irma, but he also insists that Jorge and Irma live in the house next door and continue to work on the family farm.