When I was in high school, having a rough go of my teenage years and the substance abuse and dysfunction at home, I began spending a lot of my free time in the forest and my lunch in the school library, where I met an intriguing girl who had grown up just off a reserve in northern Quebec, and who – despite our early mutual hatred for each other – became a good friend and taught me a lot about the old and the new ways.
On one of the rare days either of us ventured down into the packed and crowded cafeteria, I asked if the seat next to her was taken, and she joked, “What’ll ya give me for it?”
So I told her I’d dedicate my first book to her. Twenty years later, I find myself not only keeping that promise but writing a character heavily inspired by an old soul who came into my life during a very challenging time and had a profound impact on the course it has taken since.
The following is the jacket synopsis:
It’s hard to watch someone you love die in slow motion. Harder still when it’s by their own hand. Hard to wake up every morning and pick up the pieces knowing they will never stay put.
Nathan is 16 and home is a world of addiction, violence, and suicide. And so he runs, every day, all day, through rain and heat and cold. He runs to get away from the house, away from him, away from his own head. It calms him in the times when his hands shake; when his jaw is clenched and his knuckles white; when things happen that cut the breath out of him.
He knows he will never escape, can never get away and leave her behind, but when his mother tries again to take her life, spills enough of her blood to drown in, it all comes crashing in waves and he finds himself lost and homeless and still desperately unable to break away.
In the middle of a woodlot on a dead-end road, he’s found by an unlikely mentor – an abusive girl who bullies and despises him but reluctantly finds herself showing him how to live in the woods and rely only on himself. As she teaches him to see and be still, to track and hunt and control the panic that rises in him, Nathan stirs up the pain of her own past, and soon they both must come to terms with the hard reality that they can’t always fix the broken people they love.