Bursting with wonder and delicate despair, Serrie Sullivan longs for the world, but she’s trapped, just like Dorothy in Oz. Serrie’s got a nasty secret. It’s festering inside her, because in the gothic Annapolis Valley, hey, that’s what you do -- you never show and you never, ever tell.
As she dashes from her wedding altar on the run of her life, ardently wanting to understand what has brought her to this moment, Serrie sweeps us up in an exhilarating and poignant journey from rural Nova Scotia to London bars, to strip clubs by the docks, through mental hospital wards and rehab centres, back to quiet verandahs and porch swings in serene Lupin Cove. Along the way we meet a delightful array of off-beat characters including Serrie’s best friends, Dearie and Elizabeth: Dearie, the anglicized Acadian who wants to go to New Orleans to find her Cajun relatives, and Elizabeth, who would like nothing better than to spend the rest of her life picking strawberries.
Heave explores the joys and agonies of family, of what one generation inherits from the next, and of how past and present are inexorably linked. Memories weave through the book as Serrie searches for equanimity in a life that intoxicates her with its beauty as it knocks her to her knees.
Born in Nova Scotia, Christy Ann Conlin has travelled widely and apprenticed as a storyteller in Northern Ireland. She has an MFA in creative writing from UBC, and has had plays staged in Halifax and Vancouver. Conlin lives in Halifax.
“This is a wildly energetic debut, alive with characters so vivid they very nearly eclipse one of the tenderest, truest depictions of Nova Scotia life and landscape I think I’ve ever read.” -- Lynn Coady
“Some books, such as thing debut novel…should arrive with the kind of abe that come on cigarette packs: WARNING: Excess of Talent, Visceral Reation May Ensue. Conlin…has produced an extraordinary book…that won’t soon be forgotten.” -- Toronto Star
“Conlin proves herself a keen observer of family life, adept at teasing out the loose ends and following them to uncover the lumps and knots in the fabric.” -- Hamilton Spectator
“Fresh as a Sea Breeze” -- Vancouver Sun
“Highly visual and visceral prose” “Right from the first line Heave is a crazy ride” -- Halifax Daily News
“One book I will not be passing on is Nova Scotian writer Christy Ann Conlin’s marvellous first novel Heave. This book prompted a whelp of excitement from me. “ -- Noah Richler, National Post
“Heave is simply a marvellous book.” “Heave is a powerful book”. “Conlin’s style is precise, the intensity often startling. She writes with a truthfulness that is passionate.” -- Michelle Berry, Globe and Mail