We're so excited to bring you Part Two of our Summer Reading series, packed with excellent and compelling fiction.
Morse Code for Romantics, by Anne Baldo
About the book: In Anne Baldo's Morse Code for Romantics, patterns of life emerge-and break-in relationships both requited and otherwise. A restaurateur orchestrates a devious punishment for his wife's lover. A desperate mother searches for her missing daughter, a modern-day Persephone who was lured away by a sinister boyfriend. An islander falls under the spell of a visiting researcher, whose insidious smiles and natural sangfroid mirror the serpent-like sea monster he hunts.
These wistful, darkly surreal stories, set in Southern Ontario, suggest that maternal instinct is not just a chemical lie but something bloody and painful; that one person's clouds can rain on generations; and that true loneliness can be as clear as code written on a face, and as ominous as a dark, monstrous shape lurking beneath the surface.
This Is How You Start to Disappear, by Astrid Blodgett
About the book: These twelve new short stories from Astrid Blodgett explore the consequences of grief and denial and single moments that change perceptions, lives, and attachments forever. Crisp prose and unexpected plot twists move relatable characters through vivid outdoor settings and interior depths. A child negotiates adult behaviour when an injured dog is put down. An older sister bribes a younger one to go on her first date. A family canoe trip launches from Disaster Point. A woman wants to hurl her granddaughter’s birthday cake out the window. This Is How You Start to Disappear shows all the heartbreaking ways we evolve when coping with change or trauma.
A Real Somebody, by Deryn Collier
About the book: From author Deryn Collier comes a smart, charming postwar historical novel based on the true story of an aspiring writer who dares to dream big.
Montreal, 1947. To support her once-prosperous family, June Grant joins a steno pool in a prestigious advertising firm. For June, it’s hard to imagine having the kind of life her parents want—the kind of life her sister Daisy has, with a well-off husband and two precocious kids.
But Daisy might not be a picture-perfect housewife after all. As June makes her own waves in the advertising world, she probes a hidden side of her sister’s life.
June’s discoveries upend everything she thought she knew about her sister while challenging her own inner conflict about pursuing her dreams versus living up to expectations. Being a dutiful housewife might mean something else entirely.
Based on the true story of the author’s aunt, A Real Somebody charts the journey of a talented young writer who dares to break the conventions of her time during one pivotal season of her life.
Above Discovery, by Jennifer Falkner
About the book: “It is the part that is missing that I am drawn to, that I try to pin down. My gaze is always divided by what is here and what is no longer here. That, for me, is where the deepest pleasure lies, where the sweet overcomes the bitter."
A couple coping with a recent loss are tasked with taking stock of a late biology enthusiast’s hoard. A support worker dedicated to rehabilitating young women suffering from, among other things, a certain unexpected effect of the climate apocalypse faces a truth that shatters the illusion separating her work and her personal life. An archaeologist formerly working in Syria struggles with her decision to flee from unrest, while the people she has left behind face an uncertain fate.
In Jennifer Falkner’s richly imagined first collection, past and present glancingly converge, making the familiar outlines of myth, history, and everyday life seem suddenly strange. With spare, elegant prose, Falkner introduces the reader to those whose narratives are written in the language of empty space. Above Discovery is a stunning debut collection from an author to watch.
The Family Code, by Wayne Ng
About the book: Every family has rituals and routines holding them together. But sometimes they are the very things that tear them apart. The Family Code is a gritty family drama featuring the troubled life of Hannah Belenko, a young single mother dogged by the brutality of past traumas and a code of silence that she must crack in order to be free—or else lose everything.
Hannah was raised by this code and rules her own family by it. When she loses her daughter to the state and her boyfriend threatens her, she flees from Ottawa to Halifax with her remaining son, six-year-old Axel. While she bulldozes her way through everything and schemes to protect him, Axel flounders in the chaos. He begins to doubt his mother and her dream of a way out. With her life crashing down, Hannah is driven by desperation to survive yet hangs on to elusive hope.
With unvarnished and high-voltage prose, The Family Code unabashedly reveals the power and perils of parenting, but also the longing and vulnerability of children.
Sunshine Nails, by Mai Nguyen
About the book: A tender and funny debut about a Vietnamese Canadian family who will do whatever it takes to keep their no-frills nail salon afloat after a multimillion-dollar chain opens across the street.
Vietnamese refugees Debbie and Phil Tran have made a good life for themselves in Toronto, but their landlord has just jacked up the rent of their family-run nail salon, Sunshine Nails, and it’s way more than they can afford. When Take Ten, a glamorous chain offering a more luxurious salon experience, moves into the neighborhood, the Tran family is terrified of losing their business—and the community they’ve built around them.
But daughter Jessica comes to their rescue. She’s just moved back home after a messy breakup and an even messier firing. Together with her workaholic brother, Dustin, and recently immigrated cousin, Thuy, they devise some good old-fashioned sabotage. But as the line between right and wrong gets blurred, relationships are put to the test, and Debbie and Phil must choose: Do they keep their family intact or fight for their salon?
Full of memorable manicures and even more memorable characters, Sunshine Nails is a humorous and heartfelt novel about family, resilience, and what it means to start over.
The Mythmakers, by Keziah Weir
About the book: Sal Cannon is a struggling magazine writer, dealing with the professional humiliation of being conned by a serial liar. She’s close to rock-bottom when she reads a short story by Martin Keller, the much older author she met at a literary event years ago. Much to her surprise, the piece is about her and their brief encounter. Desperate to read more of the unpublished novel from which the story is taken, she is shocked to learn that Martin has died. But as her own life and relationships fall apart, Sal makes a rash decision: she will seek out Martin’s widow, Moira, and convince her to let Sal read the rest of Martin’s novel. Her novel.
Over a single summer, Sal will insert herself into Moira’s life. Or is it the other way around? As Sal sifts through Martin’s papers and learns more about Moira, she discovers the larger, ever-shifting story of not just one marriage but two, as she unravels the secret histories of those closest to Martin Keller.
The Mythmakers is a seductive nesting doll of a book that grapples with perspective and memory, as well as the battles between creative ambition and love. It’s a novel about the trials and tribulations of finding out who you are, and those moments when the trajectories of our lives are forever altered.
Lump, by Nathan Whitlock
About the book: A dark, satiric novel about a woman whose attempt to escape crises in her health and marriage ends up causing more chaos.
Cat's career has stalled, her marriage has gone flat, and being a stay-at-home mom for two young kids has become a grind. When she finds out, all within a few days, that she is pregnant, that a lump in her breast is the worst thing it could be, and that her husband has done something unforgivably repulsive, she responds by running away from her marriage and her life—a life that, on the outside, looks like middle-class success. Her actions send waves of chaos through the lives of multiple characters, including a struggling house cleaner, a rich and charismatic yoga guru, and even an ailing dog. What follows is a dark comedy about marriage, motherhood, privilege, and power.
Comments herecomments powered by Disqus