In a mining town edging the Australian Nullarbor, Gina sits at the bar and devotes herself to the heart of what she’s trying to escape. After finishing a grueling cross-Canada tour, Dana, an alt-rock musician, flees to the Yukon to avoid her band’s rising fame and risks sabotaging it all. In a small West Coast fishing town, a boat-dwelling mother struggles to manage a friend’s cancer, mortality and a failing marriage. A novella, “Sung Spit,” chronicles Cassiopeia’s adolescence and young adulthood as she is paralyzed by an unwanted pregnancy and faces the disappearance of family members.
In her debut collection, Hideout Hotel, Janine Alyson Young delivers disparate characters struggling with their own inadequacies. From Coastal BC and Yukon Territory to Western Australia, each small town confines characters and mirrors their own limitations. From boats to abandoned shacks, tents to trailers, Young’s characters take refuge in unlikely places. As they meander from one edge of town to the other, they search for the overlooked morsel that will make them good. Somehow, in spite of themselves, they manage to survive.
Young’s tender and ironic stories about disaffected girlhood deliver surprising punches. Told in the first person, the plain spoken and endearingly honest voice of her narrators encourages you to drop your guard and become involved with her characters, whose charm will surprise and sometimes shock you. Her prose is notable for its understated style and the sophisticated intelligence of the voice. The graceful and generous spirit of her stories, which range from Australia to coastal BC, perfectly capture the way yearning young people move through the now bewildering array of attitudes and choices they face.