Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize finalist
Set in the early 1990s, Ashley Little's follow-up to her award-winning novel Anatomy of a Girl Gang introduces readers to unforgettable eleven-year-old Tucker Malone--the only child of a narcoleptic touring stripper--who believes his father is Sam Malone from Cheers. He and his mother move from motel to motel until, one night in Niagara Falls, his mother is hit by a car after falling asleep in the street.
Tucker is sent to live in a youth group home where he meets Meredith, a pregnant sixteen-year-old with more than her fair share of family problems. They bond over slurpees and a shared love for literature and he convinces her to "borrow" a car to go to Boston to find his father.
Their cross-country search becomes an epic depiction of mid-90s America as Tucker comes face to face with some of the most notorious criminals of the time: The Oklahoma Bomber; Lorena Bobbitt; the boys responsible for the Columbine High School massacrew; O.J. Simpson; and Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka.
Told in spare, straightforward prose, Niagara Motel is a biting chronicle during the rise of mass-media in the decade that defined the MTV Generation, and the bittersweet story of a young boy forced to learn brutal lessons on his way to becoming a man.
Tucker's a charmer from the get-go -- funny and wise and knowing and clueless -- the best companion you could have on this road trip across the early 90s, where the real and the outlandish blur and commingle. Like summer blacktop, like a desert mirage, Niagara Motel shimmers. -Anne Fleming, author of Gay Dwarves of America
Tucker's the heart of this improbable series of events. An innocent in a tough and corrupt world, his generous narration -- the voice, the sense-making, the insight -- is the great drawing card of Little's novel. He's plucky and determined and, despite circumstances, refreshingly unmarred.
Part Huck Finn, part Natural Born Killers, Niagara Motel re-animates fin de siecle North America in all its surreal, gaudy wonder. Through the force of Tucker's voice -- preternaturally trusting, quasi-beatific -- we enter a liminal world of celebrity criminals, tourist attractions, and social anomie at once familiar and strange, at once the recent past and an allegory for the adolescent years of this century. Ashley Little can make you believe everything. -Matt Rader, author of Desecrations
Sharp, sly, and full of feeling. Catcher in the Rye crashes into the 1990s. A voice and a story you won't be able to shake. -Alix Hawley, author of All True Not a Lie in It
A dark, fearless portrait of an adolescence lived in less than ideal circumstances. Told with a balanced touch of humour and tragedy, Niagara Motel is as heartbreaking as it is hilarious. -Michael Christie, author of If I Fall, If I Die