Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 12 to 18
- Grade: 7 to 12
Seventeen-year-old Camden splits her time between her father, a minor rock star, and her mom, a scruffy "hardware geek" who designs and implements temporary and sustainable power systems and satellite linkups for off-grid music and art festivals, tree-sits, and attends gatherings of alternative healers. Lark, Camden's father, provides her with brand-name jeans, running shoes, and makeup, while her mother's world is populated by anarchists, freaks, geeks, and hippies. Naturally, Camden prefers staying with her dad and going to the mall with his credit card and her best friend, but one summer, when Lark is recording a new album, Camden accompanies her mother, Laureen, to a healing camp on a mountain in Northern California. After their arrival, Laureen heads to San Francisco, ostensibly to find her lover, but she never comes back. Alone, penniless, and without much in the way of camping skills, Camden withdraws. Things begin to look up when she is befriended by Skinny, a young man in charge of the security detail at the camp who knew her mother as a child. The summer ends and Camden heads back to Toronto to find her dad, and it's only there that she learns Laureen's disappearance is tied, unexpectedly, to the secrets Skinny tried to keep from her for months, until, finally, he couldn't.
About the author
Ursula Pflug is author of the critically acclaimed slipstream novel Green Music (2002). She has published over 70 short stories in professional publications in Canada, the U.S., and the U.K. She has published dozens of art and book reviews in Canada and the U.S., and has had several plays professionally produced, one (Nobody Likes The Ugly Fish, 1994) solo-authored, and the remainder collaboratively created. Recipient of an Ontario Arts Council Works In Progress Award in 2005 to complete a new novel, Thin Wednesday, Pflug was short-listed for the K. M. Hunter Award the following year. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee and has also been shortlisted for the Aurora, the Sunburst, Pulp Press's 3-Day Novel, Descant's Novella Contest, and many more. Currently, she edits short fiction for The Link and teaches creative writing with a focus on the short story at Loyalist College. Her long awaited and highly praised story collection After the Fires appeared in 2008. Harvesting The Moon, a new collection, is forthcoming in 2013. from PS Publishing, a UK boutique press specializing in literary speculative fiction including the Bradbury estate. Her latest novel, The Alphabet Stones, was published by Blue Denim Press in 2013.
"A beautifully sustained and compassionate book about the lost, written in the voice of Camden, a young girl who is, predictably rather than suddenly, abandoned in a healing "camp" halfway up a Mountain in California. Intelligent and wary, she does not ask for sympathy or let anyone, including the reader, near-her voice is cool, sarcastic and resigned, though Ursula Pflug's mastery gives us the continuous sense of what is not said. This is not a novel of the expected. In the stagnant daily routines on the Mountain (mud and latrines and wet clothes form a large part), the isolation of each from each, the loss of family and attempts to create new bonds however fragile, there is a continuous sense of this book's being written in the shadow of real migrant camps. This is a novel that does not allow us to turn away."
--Heather Spears, author of The Strong Box
"A delicate, bittersweet story full of big ideas, told in sumi-e brushstrokes set against a large-scale canvas, from master Canadian fantasist Ursula Pflug."
--Candas Jane Dorsey, author of A Paradigm of Earth