Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 12 to 18
- Grade: 7 to 12
No one is who they seem to be in Charlie's world. Not her father, the boy she likes, or even the mysterious man from her mother's funeral.
Sixteen-year-old Charlie, an ambitious and dedicated writer who thinks her small-town life doesn't offer any material for her work, is sure of three things:
- That her blow-up at her tactless creative writing teacher must have contributed to his heart attack,
- That she doesn't want to spend her summer with her father's girlfriend and her triplets,
- And that she has to get away.
She decides to spend the summer with her grandmother on remote Lake Ringrose in northern Ontario, where she thinks she can laze on a hammock all summer and get in touch with her mother's roots. Instead, she steps into a series of unexpected adventures that will alter her view of what seemed a dull and tedious existence. For one thing, she agrees to compete in the gruelling Four Islands Race. Then she falls for Kerry, a handsome local hunk, and wants to tell him how she feels. As revelation upon revelation builds, she discovers the unthinkable: Kerry is her half-brother and the man she's always taken to be her father isn't after all. And then there's the mystery of the Chocolate Moose Man, an almost mythical figure who turned up at her mother's funeral thirteen years before.
It's all rich grist for a keen-eyed young writer's mill, as Charlie learns that the best material comes not from exciting travels and circumstances, but from journeys to new places inside herself.
About the author
Heather Waldorf was born in Ottawa and raised in small-town Eastern Ontario. She now lives in Toronto with Moose, a twelve-year-old golden retriever. Heather is addicted to green tea, jigsaw puzzles, mystery novels and the tv show Bones. Also a lover of the great outdoors, she's never written a novel that doesn't, at some point, put the main character in a canoe. Heather has written several books for teen readers; Leftovers is her first book with Orca Book Publishers.
"[Heather Waldorf manages to incorporate numerous issues in this book, and yet she does so in a way that allows the book to shine as a thoughtful, engaging read rather than feeling leaden with the weight of too much teen angst. The characters are truly winsome, well-realized and believably flawed; the small-town flavour of the community is beautifully evoked and the issues that are raised are handled sensitively but without melodrama. It is a compelling book that is peopled with characters who are utterly true-to-life; they are people I'd like to know, people whose stories I genuinely cared about.
— CM MAgazine
"Waldorf is an interesting new author who clearly does not shy away from thorny situations."
— School Library Journal
"Waldorf tells Char's story in a straightforward manner, navigating family harmony and conflict to a surprise conclusion. This story is recommended for aspiring writers, and for those confused about the complexities of family and intimate love."
"Heather Waldorf is undoubtedly one of Canada's finest new young adult novelists. Her first novel, Fighting the Current, was an absolute jewel, and Grist is just as good. Starting off with bright, original dialogue from engaging main character Charlie and her hilariously eccentric English teacher Mr. Pollen, the plot unfolds at a steady pace until the dramatic climax where all secrets are revealed. But instead of a too-quick, letdown of a denouement, Waldorf allows the novel to take its time, rearranging all the plot strands into a new pattern, permitting heroine Charlie to see how her life isn't "destroyed" by this news, it's just going to look a little different from what she thought. Grist is a fantastic book and should go on everyone's summer reading list."
— YA Reviews