A YA novel about Keira, a figure skater just entering high school who's intrigued about kissing both boys and girls.
In this compelling novel for young adults, Keira is a quirky but shy teen entering her first year of high school; she navigates her growing interest in kissing both girls and boys, while not alienating her BFF, boy-crazy Sita. As the two acclimate to their unfamiliar surroundings, they manage to find new lunchmates and make lists of the cutest boys in school. But Keira is caught "in between"--unable to fully participate in these kind of conversations, yet too scared to come clean. She's also feeling the pressure of her family's problems: parents who married too young and now have money issues; an older brother who's the popular kid at school and takes every opportunity to taunt Keira; and a younger sister who uses a wheelchair and must put up with adults who expect too little or too much from her.
Keira finds solace in training for the regional finals in figure skating, which she loves even though she knows it's geeky (and very het-girl!). But when she meets a girl named Jayne who seems perfect for her, she isn't confident she can pull off her charade any longer. Matters come to a head at the high school Halloween dance, where friendships are tested and mended, new relationships are made and broken, and Keira's own life combusts in one unalterable instant, only to be reconfigured in the most unexpected way.
Rough Patch is a powerful novel about picking yourself up after a spill, and finding your own way in the world.
About the author
Nicole Markotic is a poet, novelist, and critic. Her poetry books include Bent At the Spine (BookThug), Minotaurs & Other Alphabets, and Connect the Dots (Wolsak & Wynn); her novels are Yellow Pages (Fitzhenry & Whiteside) and Scrapbook of My Years as a Zealot (Arsenal Pulp Press). She has edited a collection of poetry by Dennis Cooley, By Word of Mouth, co-edited (with Sally Chivers) an anthology of essays concerning representations of disability, The Problem Body: Projecting Disability on Film, is working on a critical book on disability and literature (McFarland & Co), and has an edited collection of essays on Robert Kroetsch (forthcoming with Guernica). She has published in literary journals in Canada, the USA, Australia, and Europe (including The Capilano Review, CV2, filling Station, New American Writing, Open Letter, Prairie Fire, Rampike, and West Coast Line). She won the bpNichol Poetry Chapbook Award in 1998, and was nominated for the Stephan G. Stephansson Poetry Book of the Year Award and for the Henry Kreisel First Book of the Year Award. She edits the chapbook series, Wrinkle Press (publishing such poets as Robert Kroetsch, Nikki Reimer, and Fred Wah), and has worked as an editor for Red Deer Press and NeWest Press. Currently, Nicole Markotic is Professor of Creative Writing, Children’s Literature, and Disability Studies at the University of Windsor.
Rough Patch is a perfect triple axel of a story, with electric writing, unforgettable characters, and a climax that will leave you gasping. Markotic gets what it's like when none of the labels people have for you fit, and when you wonder if there's something wrong with you because you don't want them to fit. I fell hard for this book.
-Melanie Little, author of The Apprentice's Masterpiece and Confidence
Rough Patch has a lot going for it. Keira's voice as a character is incredibly authentic; she's shy, awkward, silly, and self-deprecating. She's easily frustrated with her parents and constantly worried about making her best friend proud--by not being a prude. The tension between being her authentic self, and being someone who at the very least won't be the laughing stock of the school, is consistently rendered throughout the novel.
Keira is figure skating on very thin ice. She can land an axel, no problem, but the leap she's about to make looks likely to sweep her feet right out from under her. Markotic takes us inside Keira's head where the words are -- the awkward, sometimes hilarious, painful and poignant words -- which she dare not say. And then when she does ... well, it does more than break the ice. Rough Patch is a YA problem novel that turns into a love story. But wait for the end of the program: it's more thrilling than a quad!
-Tim-Wynne-Jones, author of The Emperor of Any Place