Sixteen-year-old Winnie is a creature of habit, a lover of ritual and stability. If she had her way, not much would change. But when a new family moves to town, Winnie and her three best friends—all boys—find themselves changing quickly and dramatically to impress Caleb, their strange and charismatic new companion. Under Caleb's influence, Winnie and her friends test boundaries, flirt with danger, and in the end, illuminate darkness within each other and themselves.
Following a before and after structure that pivots around a mysterious and devastating fire at a local winery, Throw Down Your Shadows is a compelling exploration of the contours of young friendship and the development of powerful new appetites.
Reminiscent of The Girls by Emma Cline and Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler, this literary coming-of-age story feeds a growing demand in adult fiction for candid portrayals of the young female experience as complex and provocative, and announces a bold new voice in Canadian fiction.
Deborah Hemming lives and writes in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. She holds an MA in English from McGill University, a BA in English from the University of King's College, and an MLIS from Dalhousie University. Throw Down Your Shadows is her first novel.
"Throw Down Your Shadows blends psychological depth and menace to create a story that is both propulsive and thoughtful: a rich, character-driven novel with touches of the weird and the regional particularities of the Annapolis Valley. Hemming upends the conventions of coming-of-age novels while demonstrating that unique stories of adolescence crashing into adulthood can have universal resonance." —Naben Ruthnum, author (as Nathan Ripley) of Find You in the Dark
"Throw Down Your Shadows is a compulsive, intoxicating read. I cared for these characters, felt entranced and betrayed by them, as if they were my own friends. As the narration weaves between past and future, orbiting nearer to the black hole at its centre, Hemming proves herself to be a masterful storyteller. I lost sleep over this book, mostly because I couldn't put it down." —Eliza Roberston, author of Demi-Gods
"Throw Down Your Shadows captures smalltown adolescence with unwavering veracity. Hemming's gracefully restrained prose gives us an intimate view of what it's like to come of age in the expansive lusciousness of rural Nova Scotia, amongst complicated relationships forged in a tight-knit, intergenerational community." —Evan Crocker, award-winning author of Barrelling Forward and All I Ask
"In her compelling debut, Deborah Hemming has written a haunting and moving story alight with memorable characters. Compulsively readable right to the shocking conclusion, I was completely enthralled with this novel." —Nina Berkhout, author of The Mosaic