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Lost and Found: A List by Karma Brown
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Lost and Found: A List by Karma Brown

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tagged: karma brown
Karma Brown's latest novel is Recipe for a Perfect Wife, and it's already a bestseller. We're happy to share her recommended reading list of fabulous Canadian books.
The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore
Why it's on the list ...
What is lost: A group of girls from Camp Forevermore head out on an overnight kayak/camping trip and end up lost in the Pacific Northwest.

What is found: This novel reads like a collection of linked short stories about each of the girls present that fateful night—who they were before the journey, and who they became after. In a more straightforward novel what may have been lost during the overnight trip was their innocence. But it is slowly revealed that what happens on this harrowing camping trip is not the worst these girls—their characters agonizingly realistic—have been through. This novel is a raw look at the trials and tribulations of coming of age, and while even more heartache is found on the trip, so is hope—because life does go on.
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The Boat People

July 2009
Mahindan was flat on his back when the screaming began, one arm right-angled over his eyes. He heard the whistle and thud of falling artillery, the cries of the dying. Mortar shells and rockets, the whole world on fire.
     Then another sound. It cut through the clamour so that for a drawn-out second there was nothing else, only him and his son and the bomb that arched through the sky with a shrill banshee scream, spinning nose aimed straight for them. Mahindan fought to open his eyes. His limbs were pinned down and heavy. He struggled to move, to call out in terror, to clamber and run. The ground rumbled. The shell exploded, shards of hot metal spitting in its wake. The tent was rent in half. Mahindan jolted awake.
     Heart like a sledgehammer, he sat up frantic, blinking into the darkness. He heard someone panting and long seconds later realized it was him. The echoing whine of flying shrapnel faded and he returned to the present, to the coir mat under him, back to the hold of the ship.
     There were snores and snuffles, the small nocturnal noises of five hundred slumbering bodies. Beneath him, the engine’s monotonous whir. He reached out, instinctive, felt his son Sellian curled up beside him, then lay down again. The back of his neck was damp.
     His pulse still raced. He smelled the sourness of his skin, the raw animal stink of the bodies all around. The man on the next mat slept with his mouth open. His snore was a revving motorcycle, so close Mahindan could almost feel the warm exhales.
     He put his hand against Sellian’s back, felt it move up and down. Gradually, his own breathing slowed to the same rhythm. He ran a hand through his son’s hair, fine and silky, the soft strands of a child, then stroked his arm, felt the roughness of his skin, the long, thin scratches, the scabbed-over insect bites. Sellian was slight. Six years old and barely three feet tall. How little space the child occupied, coiled into himself, his thumb in his mouth. How precarious his existence, how miraculous his survival.
     Mahindan’s vision adjusted and shapes emerged out of the gloom. The thin rails on either side of the ladder. Lamps strung up along an electrical cord. Outside the porthole window, it was still pitch-black.
     Careful not to wake Sellian, he stood and gingerly made his way across the width of the ship toward the ladder, stepping between bodies huddled on thin mats and ducking under sleepers swaying overhead, cocooned in rope hammocks. It was hot and close, the atmosphere suffocating.
     Hema’s thick plait trailed out on the dirty floor. Mahindan stooped to pick it up and laid it gently on her back as he passed by. Her two daughters shared the mat beside her; they lay on their sides facing each other, knees and foreheads touching. A few feet on, he passed the man with the amputated leg and averted his gaze.
     During the day the ship was rowdy with voices, but now he heard only the slap of the electrical cord against the wall, everyone breathing in and out, recycling the same stale, diesel-scented air.
     A boy cried out in his sleep, caught in a nightmare, and when Mahindan turned toward the sound, he saw Kumuran’s wife comfort her son. With both hands grasping the banisters, Mahindan hoisted himself up the ladder. Emerging onto the deck, inhaling the fresh scent of salt and sea, he felt immediately lighter. From overhead, the mast creaked and he gazed up to see the stars, the half-appam moon glowing alive in the sky. At the thought of appam – doughy, hot off the fire – his stomach gave a plaintive, hollow grumble.
     It was dark, but he knew his way around the ship. A dozen plastic buckets were lined up along the stern. He squatted in front of one and formed his hands into a bowl. The water was tepid, murky with twigs and bits of seaweed. He splashed water on his face and the back of his neck, feeling the grit scratch his skin.
     The boat – a sixty-metre freighter, past its prime and jerry-rigged for five hundred passengers – was cruising through calm waters, groaning under the weight of too much human cargo. Mahindan held on to the railing, rubbing a thumb against the blistered rust.
     A few others were out, shadowy figures keeping silent vigil on both levels of the deck. They had been at sea for weeks or months, sunrises blurring into sunsets. Days spent on deck, tarps draped overhead to block out the sun, and the floor burning beneath them. Stormy nights when the ship would lurch and reel, Sellian cradled in Mahindan’s lap, their stomachs tumbling with the pitch and yaw of the angry ocean.
     But the captain had said they were close and for days they had been expecting land, a man posted at all times in the crow’s nest.
     Mahindan turned his back to the railing and slid down to sit on the deck. Exhaustion whenever he thought of the future; terror when he remembered the past. He yawned and pressed a cheek to raised knees, then tucked his arms in for warmth. At least here on the boat they were safe from attack. Ruksala, Prem, Chithra’s mother and father. The roll call of the dead lulled him to sleep.
He awoke to commotion and gull shrieks. A boy ran down the length of the ship calling for his father. Appa! Appa! There were more people on the deck now, all of them speaking in loud, excited voices.
     The man they called Ranga stood at the railing beside him, staring out. Mahindan was dismayed to see him.
     Land is close, Ranga said.
     Mahindan scanned the straight line of the ocean, trying not to blink. Nearby, a young man stood on the rail and levered his body half out of the boat. An older woman called out: Take care!
     After all this time, finally we have arrived, Ranga said. He grinned at Mahindan and added: Because of you only, I am here.
     Nothing to do with me, Mahindan said. We all took our own chance.
     Mahindan kept his gaze fixed on the horizon. At first he saw the head of a pin, far in the distance, but as he kept watching, the vision emerged. Purple-brown land and blue mountains like ghosts rising in the background. The newspaperman came to join them as the slope of a forest appeared. Mahindan had spoken to him a few times but could not recall his name. Someone said he had been working for a paper in Colombo before he fled.
     We will be intercepted, the newspaperman said. Americans or Canadians, who will catch us first?
     Catch us? Ranga repeated, his voice rising to a squeak.
     But now there were people streaming onto the deck, squeezing in for a view at the railing, and the newspaperman was jostled away. Mahindan edged aside too, relieved to put distance between himself and Ranga.
     There were voices and bodies everywhere. Women plaited their hair over one shoulder. Men pulled their arms through their T-shirts. Most were barefoot. People pressed up around him. The boat creaked and Mahindan felt it list, as everyone crowded in. They stood shoulder to shoulder, people on both levels of the deck, hushing one another, children holding their breath. The trees, the mountains, the strip of beach they could now make out up ahead, it all seemed impossibly big, unreal after days and nights of nothing but sea and sky and the rumbling of the ship. Nightmares of rusted steel finally giving way, belching them all into the ocean.
     Sellian appeared, squeezing himself between legs, one fist against his eyes. Appa, you left me!
     How to leave? Mahindan said. Did you think I jumped in the ocean? He picked his son up in the crook of one arm and pointed. Look! We’re here.
     The clouds burned orange. Mahindan squinted. People shouted and pointed. Look!
     There was a tugboat in the water and a larger ship, its long nose turned up, speeding toward them, sleek and fast, with a tall white flagpole. The wind unfurled the flag, red and white, majestic in the flaming sky. They saw the leaf and a great resounding cheer shook the boat.
     The captain cut the engine and they floated placid. Overhead, there was a chopping sound. Mahindan saw a helicopter, its blades slicing the sky, a red leaf painted on its belly. There were three boats now, all of them circling the ship, a welcome party. On the deck, people waved with both hands. The red-and-white flag snapped definitive.
     Mahindan gripped his son. Sellian shivered in his arms, from fear, from exhilaration, he couldn’t tell. Soon Mahindan was shaking too, armpits dampening. His teeth clattered.
     Their new life. It was just beginning.

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Why it's on the list ...
What is lost: The sense of home is lost, as five hundred refugees from Sri Lanka's bloody civil war reach Vancouver's shores. Even those in The Boat People who have not come from away are grappling with a sense of belonging and understanding of the world they live in.

What is found: In the heart of this novel is a message, but it’s gentle and therefore doesn’t hinder the plot. It can be easy to make blanket judgements about people, especially in the age in which we live, but this book offers a new way of seeing things—a plea for balance, which is so very Canadian. Found is the truth about people from all walks of life, and the idea that almost no one is exactly who he or she seems to be on the surface. This is a novel that challenges assumptions and provides a thoughtful gaze upon the current refugee crisis.
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From the story "Tricks"
For five years Robin had been doing this. One play every summer. It had started when she was living in Stratford, training to be a nurse. She went with a fellow student who had a couple of free tickets from her aunt, who worked on costumes. The girl who had the tickets was bored sick–it was King Lear–so Robin had kept quiet about how she felt. She could not have expressed it anyway–she would rather have gone away from the theater alone, and not had to talk to anybody for at least twenty-four hours. Her mind was made up then to come back. And to come by herself.

It wouldn’t be difficult. The town where she had grown up, and where, later, she had to find her work because of Joanne, was only thirty miles away. People there knew that the Shakespeare plays were being put on in Stratford, but Robin had never heard of anybody going to see one. People like Willard were afraid of being looked down on by the people in the audience, as well as having the problem of not following the language. And people like Joanne were sure that nobody, ever, could really like Shakespeare, and so if anybody from here went, it was because they wanted to mix with the higher-ups, who were not enjoying it themselves but only letting on they were. Those few people in town who made a habit of seeing stage productions preferred to go to Toronto, to the Royal Alex, when a Broadway musical was on tour.

Robin liked to have a good seat, so she could only afford a Saturday matinee. She picked a play that was being done on one of her weekends off from the hospital. She never read it beforehand, and she didn’t care whether it was a tragedy or a comedy. She had yet to see a single person there that she knew, in the theater or out on the streets, and that suited her very well. One of the nurses she worked with had said to her, “I’d never have the nerve to do that all on my own,” and that had made Robin realize how different she herself must be from most people. She never felt more at ease than at these times, surrounded by strangers. After the play she would walk downtown, along the river, and find some inexpensive place to eat–usually a sandwich, as she sat on a stool at the counter. And at twenty to eight she would catch the train home. That was all. Yet those few hours filled her with an assurance that the life she was going back to, which seemed so makeshift and unsatisfactory, was only temporary and could easily be put up with. And there was a radiance behind it, behind that life, behind everything, expressed by the sunlight seen through the train windows. The sunlight and long shadows on the summer fields, like the remains of the play in her head.

Last year, she saw Antony and Cleopatra. When it was over she walked along the river, and noticed that there was a black swan–the first she had ever seen–a subtle intruder gliding and feeding at a short distance from the white ones. Perhaps it was the glisten of the white swans’ wings that made her think of eating at a real restaurant this time, not at a counter. White tablecloth, a few fresh flowers, a glass of wine, and something unusual to eat, like mussels, or Cornish hen. She made a move to check in her purse, to see how much money she had.

And her purse was not there. The seldom-used little paisley- cloth bag on its silver chain was not slung over her shoulder as usual, it was gone. She had walked alone nearly all the way downtown from the theater without noticing that it was gone. And of course her dress had no pockets. She had no return ticket, no lipstick, no comb, and no money. Not a dime.

She remembered that throughout the play she had held the purse on her lap, under her program. She did not have the program now, either. Perhaps both had slipped to the floor? But no–she remembered having the bag in the toilet cubicle of the Ladies Room. She had hung it by the chain on the hook that was on the back of the door. But she had not left it there. No. She had looked at herself in the mirror over the washbasin, she had got the comb out to fiddle with her hair. Her hair was dark, and fine, and though she visualized it puffed up like Jackie Kennedy’s, and did it up in rollers at night, it had a tendency to go flat. Otherwise she had been pleased with what she saw. She had greenish-gray eyes and black eyebrows and a skin that tanned whether she tried or not, and all this was set off well by her tight-waisted, full-skirted dress of avocado-green polished cotton, with the rows of little tucks around the hips.

That was where she had left it. On the counter by the washbasin. Admiring herself, turning and looking over her shoulder to catch sight of the V of the dress at the back–she believed she had a pretty back–and checking that there was no bra strap showing anywhere.

And on a tide of vanity, of silly gratification, she had sallied out of the Ladies Room, leaving the purse behind.

She climbed the bank to the street and started back to the theater by the straightest route. She walked as fast as she could. There was no shade along the street, and there was busy traffic, in the heat of the late afternoon. She was almost running. That caused the sweat to leak out from under the shields in her dress. She trekked across the baking parking lot–now empty–and up the hill. No more shade up there, and nobody in sight around the theater building.

But it was not locked. In the empty lobby she stood a moment to get her sight back after the outdoor glare. She could feel her heart thumping, and the drops of moisture popping out on her upper lip. The ticket booths were closed, and so was the refreshment counter. The inner theater doors were locked. She took the stairway down to the washroom, her shoes clattering on the marble steps.

Let it be open, let it be open, let it be there.

No. There was nothing on the smooth veined counter, nothing in the wastebaskets, nothing on any hook on the back of any door.

A man was mopping the floor of the lobby when she came upstairs. He told her that it might have been turned in to the Lost and Found, but the Lost and Found was locked. With some reluctance he left his mopping and led her down another stairs to a cubbyhole containing several umbrellas, parcels, and even jackets and hats and a disgusting-looking brownish fox scarf. But no paisley-cloth shoulder purse.

“No luck,” he said.

“Could it be under my seat?” she begged, though she was sure it could not be.

“Already been swept in there.”

There was nothing for her to do then but climb the stairs, walk through the lobby, and go out onto the street.

She walked in the other direction from the parking lot, seeking shade. She could imagine Joanne saying that the cleaning man had already stashed her purse away to take home to his wife or his daughter, that is what they were like in a place like this. She looked for a bench or a low wall to sit down on while she figured things out. She didn’t see such a thing anywhere.

A large dog came up behind her and knocked against her as it passed. It was a dark-brown dog, with long legs and an arrogant, stubborn expression.

“Juno. Juno,” a man called. “Watch where you’re going.

“She is just young and rude,” he said to Robin. “She thinks she owns the sidewalk. She’s not vicious. Were you afraid?”

Robin said, “No.” The loss of her purse had preoccupied her and she had not thought of an attack from a dog being piled on top of that.

“When people see a Doberman they are often frightened. Dobermans have a reputation to be fierce, and she is trained to be fierce when she’s a watchdog, but not when she’s walking.”

Robin hardly knew one breed of dog from another. Because of Joanne’s asthma, they never had dogs or cats around the house.

“It’s all right,” she said.

Instead of going ahead to where the dog Juno was waiting, her owner called her back. He fixed the leash he was carrying onto her collar.

“I let her loose down on the grass. Down below the theater. She likes that. But she ought to be on the leash up here. I was lazy. Are you ill?”

Robin did not even feel surprised at this change in the conversation’s direction. She said, “I lost my purse. It was my own fault. I left it by the washbasin in the Ladies Room at the theater and I went back to look but it was gone. I just walked away and left it there after the play.”

“What play was it today?”

“Antony and Cleopatra,” she said. “My money was in it and my train ticket home.”

“You came on the train? To see Antony and Cleopatra?”


She remembered the advice their mother had given to her and to Joanne about travelling on the train, or travelling anywhere. Always have a couple of bills folded and pinned to your underwear. Also, don’t get into a conversation with a strange man.

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Why it's on the list ...
What is lost: So many of the characters in this short story collection are lost, especially Juliet, the recurring character, who finds various ways to escape the frustrations of her life until all she can do is wait for her daughter—who has accomplished what she always wanted to. Almost everyone in the collection if fleeing something, or finding ways to hide.

What is found: The outcome of each story is different but ultimately what all Alice Munro stories provide is a deeper understanding of human nature. At the end of each story, the character draws close…for just a moment. Then the reader understands—even if that moment of understanding is a fleeting one—exactly who the person is. And Munro makes all the people we meet recognizable, which is why she’s such a master at what she does.
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The Marrow Thieves
Why it's on the list ...
What is Lost: In this dystopian young adult novel, the world has been decimated by global warming and the Indigenous peoples are being viciously hunted for their bone marrow, which carries something the rest of the population has lost: the ability to dream.

What is Found: Frenchie, the book’s young protagonist, is separated from his family and becomes part of a small band of others who work together to survive as they make their way north, each of them searching for and escaping from something different. Despite the rugged and dangerous world, Frenchie discovers community, love, truth and courage. This award-winning book is lean, heartbreaking, and beautiful. Part coming of age and part cautionary tale, The Marrow Thievesa lso casts light on Canada’s past treatment of Indigenous peoples.
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Walk It Off

Walk It Off

The True and Hilarious Story of How I Learned to Stand, Walk, Pee, Run, and Have Sex Again After a Nightmarish Diagnosis Turned My Awesome Life Upside Down
also available: eBook Paperback
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Why it's on the list ...
What is Lost: Ruth Marshall, the book’s author and former Degrassi actor, learns an insidious tumour has been growing on her spine for a decade. Thankfully the tumour is benign, but the surgery to remove it is anything but: Marshall ends up losing the use her legs, and faces a long, arduous, and unknown recovery.

What is Found: This memoir is honest, funny (truly!), and heartfelt, and offers a huge dose of perspective. It is an up-close-and-personal look inside a life that has unexpectedly gone sideways—with no guarantees it will right itself again—and how taking ourselves less seriously and focusing on what truly matters might just be the answer to everything.
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The Couple Next Door

Anne reaches clumsily for her cell phone on the dining table and checks the time. It is almost one o’clock in the morning. She’d checked on the baby at midnight. Marco had gone to check on her at twelve thirty. Then he’d gone out for a cigarette on the back patio with Cynthia, while Anne and Graham sat rather awkwardly at the littered dining table, making stilted conversation. She should have gone out to the backyard with them; there might have been a breeze. But she hadn’t, because Graham didn’t like to be around cigarette smoke, and it would have been rude, or at least inconsiderate, to leave Graham there all alone at his own dinner party. So for reasons of propriety, she had stayed. Graham, a WASP like herself, is impeccably polite. Why he married a tart like Cynthia is a mystery. Cynthia and Marco had come back in from the patio a few minutes ago, and Anne desperately wants to leave, even if everyone else is still having fun.

She glances at the baby monitor sitting at the end of the table, its small red light glowing like the tip of a cigarette. The video screen is smashed—she’d dropped it a couple of days ago and Marco hadn’t gotten around to replacing it yet—but the audio is still working. Suddenly she has doubts, feels the wrongness of it all. Who goes to a dinner party next door and leaves her baby alone in the house? What kind of mother does such a thing? She feels the familiar agony set
in—she is not a good mother.

So what if the sitter canceled? They should have brought Cora with them, put her in her portable playpen. But Cynthia had said no children. It was to be an adult evening, for Graham’s birthday. Which is another reason Anne has come to dislike Cynthia, who was once a good friend—Cynthia is not baby-friendly. Who says that a six-month-old baby isn’t welcome at a dinner party? How had Anne ever let Marco persuade her that it was okay? It was irresponsible. She wonders what the other mothers in her moms’ group would think if she ever told them. We left our six-month-old baby home alone and went to a party next door. She imagines all their jaws dropping in shock, the uncomfortable silence. But she will never tell them. She’d be shunned.
She and Marco had argued about it before the party. When the sitter called and canceled, Anne had offered to stay home with the baby—she hadn’t wanted to go to the dinner anyway. But Marco was having none of it.

“You can’t just stay home,” he insisted when they argued about it in their kitchen.

“I’m fine staying home,” she said, her voice lowered. She didn’t want Cynthia to hear them through the shared wall, arguing about going to her party.

“It will be good for you to get out,” Marco countered, lowering his own voice. And then he’d added, “You know what the doctor said.”

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Why it's on the list ...
What is Lost: Anne and Marco Conti’s infant daughter, Cora, goes missing from her crib one fateful evening while the couple is at the next door neighbour’s, drinking too much and staying too long at a dinner party. Propelled by the blistering pace and constant doubt about who’s actually responsible for little Cora’s kidnapping, this is both a mesmerizing whodunit and an examination of the darker side of marriage.

What is Found: In this domestic thriller, the truth eventually comes out (as it always does) though Lapena delivers it in deliciously tempered bits and pieces, assuring you won’t be able to put the book down once you start. The novel highlights the complexity of relationships, both marital and otherwise, and how explosive secrets—even those kept with the best intentions—refuse to stay buried forever.
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We All Love the Beautiful Girls

The 14th
I love her. Everything. The way she smells. Tastes. Feels. Jesus. The way she feels.
   The first time. It was an early-morning thing. I was coming out of the bathroom. Jess was in the hall. We  were both still  half-asleep. I don’t know why she was sleeping over—she wasn’t babysitting, we were way past that, I can’t remember, it wasn’t that unusual, she’s always been at our place a lot. She put her hands on my shoulders and backed me into the bathroom, kicked closed the door. The whole thing lasted about fifteen seconds.
   You took advantage of my morning wood, I say, later, months later, when I’ve regained my ability to speak.
   Lucky boy, she says.
   Lucky boy.
   We’re lying in my bed this time, a map of the world pinned to the wall above us, a million other places we could exist. I’m rubbing the lace on her bra, trying to take things slow, so she knows that I can. The lace is scratchy against my thumb.
   Doesn’t this bug you? I ask.
   Not really. You get used to it.

   I kiss her, there, beneath the lace, so now it’s scratching my cheek.
   She puts her hand on my belt buckle, gives a little tug, and I can’t help it, I moan just thinking about what’s next.
   Your parents would be mad if they knew, Jess says. They expect more from me.
   More than this?
   She laughs. Her lips are gorgeous. Her teeth white and perfect. Perfect. She undoes the top button of my fly. And Eric, she says. He’d be very mad.
   My jaw tightens, back teeth clenched. Yeah, I say. Whatever.
   She undoes another button. And whatever you do, you can’t tell
Eli. Because he’d tell Eric. For sure.
   I know, I say. I’m not stupid. I know Eli.
   Jess lifts her head off the pillow, opens my mouth with hers, slips her tongue inside, long black hair sweeping my face, the smell of summer in winter.
   I like it with you, she says. She works the last button loose and slides her hand inside my jeans. With you I don’t have to be a porn star. With you, I can just be myself.
   Her hand. Jesus, I love her hand.
The 21st  

Mia and Frankie are well into an impromptu photo shoot when Frankie asks her if Michael, her husband of nineteen years, is the first guy she really loved. Mia tells the girl no. Without lowering her camera, she tells her how the first boy had been trembling when he whispered he loved her on the stone bridge that crossed Black Bear Creek.
   “Actually?” Frankie says. “Trembling?”
   “Like a leaf in a storm. We were young. Fifteen.”
He’d walked her home for weeks before he worked up the nerve to hold her hand.
   Mia rotates the ring on her lens, snaps the girl sharply into focus. A beauty. A lioness. Broad shoulders, amber eyes, beautiful lips, crazy, springy hair—the deepest shade of red. Behind her a wall of old north-facing windows, winter creeping in around the
puttied edges.
   What Mia doesn’t tell Frankie about the night on the bridge is how that first I love you collapsed her life before into a trinket. How one beat back her heart had been a quiet thing, hung in her chest like an un-struck gong. Instead, she dips her camera so she and the girl are eye to eye. “Hot chocolate?” she says. “A cup of coffee?”
   “Nah.” Frankie flips her phone over on the settee. “I’m good.”
The blue rectangle shines bright on the purple velvet, the fabric dark as a bruise in the low northern light that floods the front of the studio and lets Mia shoot without a flash.
   Frankie puffs a stray curl away from her face. Over the last couple of years she’s grown out her hair and found some magic product to tame it. Today, her curls lie long and loose, only a hint of wild, and there’s a new gleam at her nostril—the nose ring she hasn’t told her parents about. It’s the reason she came to the studio, to show Mia first and build up the courage to go home. Mia’s already reassured her that the new piercing looks good—and it does—and sure, her parents might be upset, but they’ll get used to it. Although honestly, Mia’s not certain they will.
   “So.” Frankie glances up from her phone. “What happened with the trembler?”
   Mia tells her how she loved the boy back, so unguardedly, so completely, so willingly, and the tragedy of him being a fundamentalist Christian who didn’t believe in premarital sex. How intense it all was, the two of them falling deeper and deeper into a frustrating fumble of love.    “God,” Frankie says, “that sounds horrible.”
   “It was.” Mia is surprised by the camera’s tremor. She presses the body more firmly against her brow; old-fashioned, she knows, but she rarely uses the screen.
   “After three years,” she says, “all I wanted to do was, well, you know, fuck.”
   It is their best moment together, and Mia has caught it, the girl leaning so joyously toward her, laughing, her body draped over her knees, the ring in her  nose a gold glint in the soft grey of the studio windows.
And then, after she’s sitting straight again, she asks so shyly, “Well, did you?”
   “No,” Mia says. “We broke up. He was pure when he left me.
Both of us pure and broken-hearted and terribly, terribly horny.”
   “That’s a sad story.” Frankie’s shoulders lift as she laughs.
   “The saddest part,” Mia says, “was afterwards we could not find a way to be friends.”
   Frankie stares off out the window at the sternness of a Canadian winter. In her hand, her phone tumbles, darkened screen flipping to dusty-pink case.
   “How about you?” Mia asks. “You met anyone special?”
   The girl casts a long stare into the camera. Light framing light, she lets Mia in, the shutter clicks, a flicker of black, and Frankie snaps back bright at the centre. She brushes her nose, and her auburn mane quivers. “No,” she says. “Not really.”

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Why it's on the list ...
What is Lost: On the night Mia and Michael Slate—a perfectly happy and successful couple—learn Michael’s business partner has siphoned their life savings, their teenage son Finn passes out in a snowbank at a party and loses his hand to frostbite.

What is Found: The consequences of both events—losing their savings and Finn’s hand—are devastating, and the previously negligible cracks in the marriage and between family members gape wide open. While there is a profound loss of innocence throughout this book—both of the childhood and marital love varieties—was takes its place is raw and honest strength that vibrates off the page, proving our great capacity for forgiveness.
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Recipe for a Perfect Wife

Recipe for a Perfect Wife

A Novel


"Recipe for a Perfect Wife is a bold, intoxicating, page-turner. Karma Brown has long been a favorite of mine and this book is proof she just keeps getting better and better. This is a thrilling, audacious story about women daring to take control."--Taylor Jenkins Reid, New York Times bestselling author of Daisy Jones and the Six

When Alice Hale reluctantly leaves a promising career in publicity, following her husband to the New York suburbs, she is unaccustomed to filling …

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