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Fiction Literary

All the Things We Leave Behind

by (author) Riel Nason

Goose Lane Editions
Initial publish date
Sep 2016
Literary, Coming of Age
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2016
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Sep 2016
    List Price

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Shortlisted for the New Brunswick Book Award for Fiction

A novel of absence and adolescence by the author of the award-winning The Town That Drowned.

It's 1977. Seventeen-year-old Violet is left behind by her parents to manage their busy roadside antique stand for the summer. Her restless older brother, Bliss, has disappeared, leaving home without warning, and her parents are off searching for clues. Violet is haunted by her brother's absence while trying to cope with her new responsibilities. Between visiting a local hermit, who makes twig furniture for the shop, and finding a way to land the contents of the mysterious Vaughan estate, Violet acts out with her summer boyfriend, Dean, and wonders about the mysterious boneyard. But what really keeps her up at night are thoughts of Bliss's departure and the white deer, which only she has seen.

All the Things We Leave Behind is about remembrance and attachment, about what we collect and what we leave behind. In this highly affecting novel, Nason explores the permeability of memory and the sometimes confusing bonds of human emotion.

About the author

RIEL NASON is a Canadian novelist and textile artist. Her acclaimed debut novel The Town That Drowned won the 2012 Commonwealth Book Prize for Canada and Europe, and the 2012 Margaret and John Savage First Book Award. It was also shortlisted for several other literary awards as well as longlisted for the 2013 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Her second novel, All the Things We Leave Behind, was published in September, 2016. Riel’s original quilts have been exhibited across Canada including being shown twice at Quilt Canada (the National Juried Show). Nason grew up in Hawkshaw, NB, and now lives in Quispamsis, NB, with her husband, son, daughter and cats.

Riel Nason's profile page


  • Short-listed, New Brunswick Book Award for Fiction

Editorial Reviews

"This book is about much more than a summer spent growing up. It's about the meaning of life and death and how a person copes with a great loss. It's about haunting and spiritual messages and whether we're open to receiving them. It's about siblings — both the fun memories and the complex relationships they share."

<i>The Vancouver Sun</i>

"Nason has written a tender and loving portrayal of one young girl grappling with absence in a world crowded with the past. Full of heart, honesty and beauty."

Brian Francis

"A powerful rumination on the universal aches of loss, existential dread, and adolescence."

<i>Quill & Quire</i>

"All the Things We Leave Behind is full of sensory detail and evocative prose, and like its author, Riel Nason, is a gift to Canadian literature. From the cheerful Purple Barn antique shop, to the mysitical boneyard deep in the woods, to a missing brother named Bliss, main character Violet carries us effortlessly through this lovely coming-of-age story not afraid to show its haunting side."

Karma Brown

"Filled with strong characters and objects of forgotten desire — perfume bottles, tintypes, rabbit-eared chairs — Riel Nason's All the Things We Leave Behind subtly unravels the mind's delusions and the past's seduction. Haunting, bittersweet."

Beth Powning

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