A sprawling historical novel set in the Peace River country in the early 1900’s, a period and a place that tested the mettle of all who came there. The novel is complex and layered, with multiple narrators, and interwoven stories. Its main story, though, is the mystical tale of a young girl straddling two worlds in ways she is not always aware of, with elements of love, sacrifice, greed, envy, heartbreaking sorrow, and unexpected twists in plot. The novel is set mostly in the past and chronicled through various voices that tell the Raft Baby’s amazing journey. We also hear directly from the Raft Baby herself, both at the beginning of the novel and at the end. Her voice is vital, true and clear and it validates the novel’s history and circumstances in the gentlest of ways.
Dunlop is at home in several genres — fiction, poetry and memoir. She is the author of two short story collections, The Beauty Box, winner of the Saskatchewan First Book Award (2004), and Carnival Glass (2008) which was also nominated for a SBA. Dunlop lives under the endless skies of Swift Current Saskatchewan, but shares an affinity with the Peace River area of Alberta. As she tells it, her uncle moved to the Peace River country from Saskatchewan in the dirty thirties. Trips to the Peace River country loom large in her childhood memories although, in reality, “how many times would my entire family drive 18 hours on less than stellar roads for a visit?” When her uncle died, his roots deep in the Peace, there was a clipping in his effects titled “Raft Baby of the Peace River.” Her cousin sent her the clipping and suggested it would make a great novel. She read the clipping and set it aside for ''sometime later.” That sometime later is now.