On this bright, sunny, crisp fall morning, I’m thinking of all the things I am thankful for. The list is too long to post here, but a few of the highlights are: sunny fall mornings, great Canadian literature, and hot cups of chai-tea-on-demand, although I’m actually drinking coffee this morning, trying out my new individual-cup coffee maker. So far, so good!
I finished reading a recently published Canadian novel last week, All the Things We Leave Behind by Riel Nason. This is a follow-up to her earlier book, The Town That Drowned, about a small town in New Brunswick that was slated to be flooded and the residents relocated to a new town in the late 1960s. That excellent book was one we read for the book club, and my ladies loved it, even though it seemed more of a Young Adult book than adult fiction. I think you could read this new book on its own without having read the first one, as it involves completely different characters and takes place maybe 10 years later. This novel is set in 1977 and tells the story of 17-year-old Violet Davis, left in charge of her parents’ antique business, The Purple Barn, for the summer while her parents are off on “vacation”, or so they tell everyone - really, they are looking for clues as to their son’s whereabouts (Bliss disappeared shortly after his high school graduation). She doesn’t know when to expect them back, and does the best she can with situations as they arise. She deals with customers, her friends, her boyfriend, and the other employees at the store. But she must also deal with the knowledge of the Boneyard, a place on the far side of the forest just past the Barn where deer, moose and other animals that have been killed by traffic are dumped by the Undertakers. She and Bliss stumbled across the Boneyard years earlier when they were exploring the forest, and while it was a horrific experience for Violet, it seemed to haunt Bliss regularly over the years. When the opportunity for an estate sale involving a mysterious house in the area comes up, Violet is instructed by her father to “buy everything”, but this sale is not without its complications, and Violet must find a way to deal with this as well as with the ghostly moose sightings she is experiencing out at the campsite where she is staying until her parents come back. Reading over my description, this coming-of-age novel sounds pretty corny, but it was really quite amazing. It was focused entirely on Violet’s thoughts and experiences, so we as readers got an intimate look at what she was thinking and how she was feeling during the timeframe of the story. The language was also beautiful, descriptive without being excessive. Here’s one of my favourite lines: “The stars are thumbtacked on the black bulletin board of the sky.” See what I mean? Simple, yet beautiful. This novel could be considered Young Adult fiction as well, but it was definitely meant for a more mature audience. It made this reader meditate on the nature of life and death, the permanence of things past and present, and how we decide what we choose to bring with us as we look toward our future. I would rate it an 8.5 out of 10, and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys coming-of-age stories.
That’s all for today. Happy Thanksgiving everyone - I hope you have many things to be thankful for!
Bye for now…
PS Another thing I'm thankful for is the new Peter Robinson novel, the next in the "Alan Banks" series (he's been promoted to Detective Superintendent!), When the Music's Over - I know what I'll be doing this afternoon!!
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