Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 14 to 18
- Grade: 9 to 12
Finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Young People’s Literature–Text
Dads can be such a drag
Life has been a struggle for Toby Goodman. Her mother died by suicide five years ago, and her father left their small town before Toby was born. Now a teenager living on her grandparents’ dairy farm, Toby has trouble letting people in. She keeps even her closest friend, the brash but endearing Trisha, at arm’s length, and recently ended her first relationship, with Trisha’s burnout brother, Mike. Convinced that she is destined to follow her mother’s path, Toby creates a plan to escape her pain.
But after learning the news that her father is coming home and finally wants to meet her, Toby must face the truth of her family’s story. Not only is her father gay, but he’s also a world-famous female impersonator—and a self-absorbed, temperamental man-child who is ill-prepared to be a real parent.
When Toby’s careful plans go awry, she is forced to rebuild the life she thought she knew from the ground up. While she may not follow an expected path, through the support of a quirky but lovable circle of friends and family, Toby may finally be able to put together the many different pieces that make up her past, her present and her future.
About the author
BRIAN FRANCIS is the author of two previous novels. His most recent, Natural Order, was selected by The Toronto Star, Kobo, and The Georgia Straight as a Best Book of the Year. His first novel, Fruit, was a Canada Reads finalist and was selected as one of Amazon and 49th Shelf’s “100 Canadian Books to Read in a Lifetime”. He lives in Toronto.
- Unknown, Globe and Mail Best Book of the Year
- Unknown, Governor General’s Literary Award for Young People's Literature – Text
- Unknown, White Pine Award Finalist
- Unknown, Quill & Quire Best Book
- Unknown, OLA Best Bets
- Unknown, CBC Best Book of the Year
- Unknown, Apple's Best Books
“Brian Francis’ first book for teen readers and fans of YA is a knockout. . . . We promise every last person in Toby’s orbit will stay with you.” — Apple Books
"Francis beautifully explores issues around mental health and suicide in a story that packs a powerful punch and stays with you long after you close the book." — Globe and Mail (Toronto)
“Believable characters and a lot of heart mark this book.” — Toronto Star
"Brian Francis’ first foray into the young adult genre is just as likely to appeal to adult readers." — Post Media
“A carefully crafted story that explores the inner lives of ordinary people facing tragic circumstances. . . . Richly layered and powerfully developed. Highly Recommended.” — CM Magazine
> “Francis sensitively and unerringly depicts the thoughts and feelings of a teen who skillfully hides her many layers of guilt, self-loathing, and pain. While her suffering is palpable, the story is also filled with warmth and moments of humour as she navigates the relationships in her life.” — Canadian Children's Book News
“With classic Francis wit and emotion, Break In Case of Emergency reveals the intergenerational impact of exclusion and the path to self-acceptance. A guide for any teenager bearing the burden of loss and loneliness.” — Vivek Shraya, author of I’m Afraid of Men and The Boy & the Bindi
“Populated with believable, lovable and flawed characters, this is a beautiful story about acceptance and learning to love people for who they are—foibles, false eyelashes and all.” — Susin Nielsen, author of We Are All Made of Molecules and The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen
“Brian Francis writes with sensitivity, empathy, and humour. The novel’s optimistic heartbeat invites the reader to consider what is family, and it does so with words and passion that can change our world. It. Is. Magic!” — Anthony De Sa, author of Children of the Moon and Barnacle Love
“I couldn’t put this book down—and these characters stayed with me long after I read the last page. A story about family, friendship, courage, and resilience, this book is both heartbreaking and hopeful. It is also, occasionally, very very funny.” — Robin Stevenson, Stonewall Honor-winning author of Pride
“An unflinching story of a young woman wrestling with life-or-death questions about her own worth and purpose in the world. Francis is not afraid of the dark, but he also knows when to shine a hopeful, healing light. Beautiful, brave, and blisteringly smart.” — Sarah Henstra, Governor General’s Award-winning author of The Red Word and We Contain Multitudes
“Raw and touching, painful and hilarious, Break in Case of Emergency is a beautifully written coming of age story that reminds us that hope ultimately springs from forgiveness—of the people who’ve let us down, and more importantly, ourselves.” — Tom Ryan, author of Keep This To Yourself and Way To Go
“A fabulous book, and highly recommended to those looking for a meaningful read with a dash of lipstick, high heels, and heart.” — Star Spider, author of Past Tense