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Young Adult Fiction Mysteries & Detective Stories

Why Are You Still Here?

A Lillian Mystery

by (author) Lynda Partridge & Dave Nicholson

Durvile Publications
Initial publish date
Sep 2022
Mysteries & Detective Stories, Aboriginal & Indigenous, Ghost Stories
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2022
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 11 to 14
  • Grade: 6 to 9


This book continues the charming story of Lillian and Kokomis, the award-winning book about a complex and not-always-lovable foster kid who finds a sense of peace and belonging from a surprising spirit that returns her to traditional ways, legends, and Indigenous ways of knowledge. Why Are You Still Here? uncovers the mystery of ghosts and spirits that live behind a window at the family farm.

About the authors

Contributor Notes

Lynda Partridge is a member of the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation. She grew up in the child welfare system and spent her childhood in numerous non-Indigenous foster homes. At a later age she obtained an honours Bachelor of Social Work (Native Human Services), followed by a Masters of Social Work Degree. It was while obtaining her undergraduate degree that she found her birth family and reconnected to her Indigenous culture.

Excerpt: Why Are You Still Here?: A Lillian Mystery (by (author) Lynda Partridge & Dave Nicholson)

After sitting quietly for a few minutes, they got up, brushed themselves off, and looked around the loft. No one even bothered with the camera at that point. Lillian felt the room fade away and thought she was going to faint. She could hear her name being yelled over and over:
“Lillian…!” “Lillian…!” “What’s happening to you…?” “You’re disappearing…!” “Quick, grab our hands…!” “Hurry up…!” “You’re turning to dust or something, hurry up…!” and then she remembered waking up in the middle of the night.
“Leroy!” Lillian cried. “The alien thing was trying to spell ‘Leroy!’” and with that, she passed out.
Meanwhile, Chloe and Grace were once again screaming as they saw their friend fade before their eyes. “Come back, Lillian! Come back!” they yelled they each grabbed Lillian’s hands, trying to keep her from disappearing. As she was fading they heard her yell “Leroy!” and as soon as that happened she started to reappear. As they pulled her, she fell into them and passed out.
“What the heck…What just happened…?”
“I better go get my mom,” Chloe yelled, struggling to her feet and down the steps so she could run to the house.
“Okay,” Grace muttered. “Okay. Oh, Lillian, what just happened? Where are you? What have we done? I knew this was a bad idea.” Grace felt Lillian squeezing her hand.
“No,” she rasped. “No, don’t get anyone yet! I’m fine. I’m fine, honest…I’m fine. I think this thing was just trying to get our attention. I’m not hurt, look.”
Lillian stood up and moved her arms and legs around to show she wasn’t hurt.
“Chloe!” Lillian yelled out to her. “Chloe, it was spelling your dad’s name. We just got the dashes dots and spaces all mixed up. As soon as I yelled ‘Leroy’ it stopped doing weird things. It wanted us to understand. I don’t think it’s an alien, I think it’s human.”
With that Lillian sat back down and said: “Now we gotta figure out what your dad has to do with this. Let’s just think about it and try to ask your mom some questions at lunch time that might help us.” Chloe checked her phone to see what time it was “Holy moley, you guys, we gotta run. It’s past when we were supposed to go in for lunch. Can you run okay, Lillian?”
“Yeah, I’m fine.” Chloe quickly texted her mom with ‘be there in a sec’ and all three bounded down the stairs. In their haste they left Grace’s backpack behind with everything in it, except for the camera which Chloe was carrying. What they didn’t see was the backpack floating in the air as they ran from the barn.

“Mom, we’re here for lunch!” Chloe yelled as she ran in the door. “It’s about time. Where have you three been? You’re an hour late!” scolded her mom back.
“Um… well, uh, actually…” Chloe stumbled on her words so Grace burst in. “What she’s trying to say is we lost track of time ‘cuz we were playing out behind the barn in the bush by the pond.” Lillian just pondered the situation quietly.
“Never mind,” Aunt Bernie said. “Just don’t do it again. I was worried something might have happened to you.” With that statement all three girls looked at each other. Aunt Bernie narrowed her eyes. “You all look very guilty about something. What’s going on? What are you three up to?”
“Nothing mom, honest!” Chloe insisted. “But uh…. We were just wondering… Did anything unusual ever happen at this farm before we moved here? Y’know, like aliens landing here or something like that…” Chloe gave a nervous laugh, and Aunt Bernie looked at her daughter long and hard.
“How many of those gummy bears did you take with you to the barn today?” she said. “That’s it for candy. You’re all cut off for the next few days.”
“Not that many mom, honest! We forgot we even had them! Here, I’ll show you— Oh, shoot, we left our backpack in the barn.”
“We’ll get it and prove it!” Grace said. “Please, don’t cut us off….”
“Hmm,” Aunt Bernie said, arms crossed. “We’ll see after lunch.”
As they sat and ate lunch together Chloe tried to get info from Aunt Bernie again.
“Did something happen to dad here?” she asked.
Bernie snapped her head up and stared at her daughter.
“Why would you ask that?”
Chloe stumbled with something to say.
“Well… Just because he’s so grumpy sometimes. He never wants to talk about anything to do with family… and he seems to be angry with Gramma. I thought… maybe something had happened here.”
“Nothing ever happened here,” Aunt Bernie said. “Your dad has his own demons to battle, just like we all do. It’s not my story to tell. We need to be respectful. He’ll tell you when he feels the time is right.” and with that Aunt Bernie started mumbling about all the chores she had to do, and they completely avoided the topic of Uncle Leroy.
Lunch was pretty quiet after that, with everyone lost in their own thoughts. As they were cleaning up and getting ready to head to the barn, Aunt Bernie told Lillian that her Kokum was going to be calling that night and to be ready for it. Apparently she had something important to share with her.
“Okay,” Lillian responded. “Thank you”
It seemed particularly hot outside as they walked through the tall grass. Everything was still. There was no rustling of leaves or birdsong and even the grass seemed browner than before lunch. All of them felt a little off kilter as they trudged to the barn yet again.

Editorial Reviews

This is a page turner story with a long awaited validation of how children have a natural spiritual intelligence. This is a gift in children that needs to be nurtured. Bravo Lillian! — Robin Decontie MSW, CFNHM, Director, Kitigan Zibi Health and Social Services

It was my pleasure to pre-read the latest book in the Lillian series. Lynda Partridge takes the reader from the easy chair to the farm to join Grace, Chloe, and Lillian as they work together to understand the mysterious messages coming from the old barn. Reading this story, I was captured by the blending of tradition, culture and the current day pandemic. I also appreciated the messages that Lynda weaves into her writing about appreciating the wisdom of the children as well as the elders. A very good read for all ages!… —Leo Massi MSW, RSW, Executive Dircetor, H-N REACH

Lynda Partridge’s latest book from the life of l is an excellent read for children and adults as well. I found myself enthralled, deeply curious about the mystery in the barn. Lynda takes you into the lives of the family on the farm, blending her Indigenous culture and spirituality into this mystery. As you read; you get caught up, the story is so thought provoking and very difficult to put down. —Sandy Herkimer


Other titles by Lynda Partridge

Other titles by Dave Nicholson