Bestselling and award-winning author Todd Babiak returns with an immersive and affecting story about a teenager's fascination with an enigmatic new woman in town whose past is catching up with her.
Summer 1989. Fourteen-year-old Adam Lisinski has a lot going for him in Monument, Colorado. He's hoping to be a starter on his high school football team, even though he's only a sophomore. He has a part-time job at Eugene's Gas Stop where he works with his best friend, Simon Kinoro. He'd like to see his girlfriend, Phoebe Brandt, more if he could, but he makes do with time alone at Monument Lake after her ballet lessons. He and his mother, Helen, have a close relationship, but Adam knows she worries.
And then Beatrice Cyr comes to town. From the second she steps out of his neighbour Marv Walker's truck, Adam is mesmerized. He neglects everything that matters to him and he's desperate to be around her, even if he's confused about what she wants or where she comes from. He begins to find himself alone with Beatrice--in the change room at Modern You, the clothing store on Second Street, at the Chapel Hill Cinema, in Marv's truck--and Adam is soon lying to everyone he cares about. And when Beatrice convinces Helen to quit her job to partner in an ambitious real estate venture, the stakes get higher until Adam is forced to make an impossible choice.
Riveting, emotionally complex, and sparkling with moments of compassion and humour, The Empress of Idaho is a story about loyalty, friendship, and the vulnerability and confusion of adolescence. It's a poignant, unforgettable portrait of a boy's difficult coming-of-age.
TODD BABIAK's most recent novels are Son of France and Come Barbarians, which was a Globe and Mail book of the year and a number one bestseller. His earlier work includes The Garneau Block, which was a national bestseller, a longlisted title for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, and the winner of the City of Edmonton Book Prize; The Book of Stanley; and Toby: A Man, which was shortlisted for the Stephen Leacock Medal and won the Alberta Book Award for Best Novel. Todd Babiak is the co-founder of Story Engine, a consulting company based in Edmonton and Vancouver.
Praise for Todd Babiak and The Empress of Idaho
”If Gillian Flynn, Richard Ford, Vladimir Nabokov, and John Irving got together to write a novel, they would come up with The Empress of Idaho. Todd Babiak has gotten very close to perfection here. Plan ahead before you start—once you do, you will not be able to stop.” —Cathal Kelly, author of Boy Wonders
”The Empress of Idaho is like a 1980s Lolita turned into a darkly compulsive miniseries by Jean-Marc Vallée—starring a beautiful teenage boy. An achingly tender read shot through with Babiak’s humour and grace, this novel charms you as it haunts you. I could not put it down.” —Claudia Dey, author of Heartbreaker
“Todd Babiak’s writing is so perceptive and witty, his characters so thick with life that you’ll find yourself carried along the novel’s twists and turns as though you’re right there in 1989 in Colorado alongside them. Part dark comedy, part thriller, and part coming-of-age tale, The Empress of Idaho is a kaleidoscope of masterful storytelling.” —Amy Stuart, author of Still Mine