Home After Dark, by David Small (2018)

Graphic Novel – Historical fiction
15 – Adult
Home After Dark, by David SmallAfter his mother leaves them, Russell and his father move to a small town in 1950s California, hoping to find a new life of sunshine and prosperity. Doesn’t quite work out that way, as anyone who has hoped to “leave it all behind and start fresh” always discovers. Dysfunction follows. They settle in Marshtown, somewhere outside of San Francisco, and his father gets a job teaching English to illiterate prisoners. Food is delivered by a Chinese neighbour, and his father descends into an alcoholic haze. Waiting for middle school to begin, Russell spends his time exploring the new neighbourhood on his bike. Read More »

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Invisible Dead, by Sam Wiebe (2017)

Mystery
Adult
Invisible Dead, by Sam WiebeVancouver is known for its sky-high real estate, spectacular setting, multicultural population and a generally laid-back and accepting attitude. Also pretty good soccer team, a football team that would be better if they hadn’t traded Andrew Harris, and a hockey team that is quite likely, to be kind, in a rebuilding year. It also has a significant drug problem, homeless numbers that are climbing every year, and a shameful history of an uncaring attitude toward missing and murdered prostitutes who are often Indigenous women. So it’s a real story that fuels the plot of this mystery that is the first in a new series starring the flawed but deeply principled private investigator Dave Wakeland. Read More »

The Bitter Side of Sweet, by Tara Sullivan (2016)

Grit Lit
13-16
The Bitter Side of Sweet, by Tara SullivanAmadou is 13 years old when he leaves home with his little brother Seydou in search of work. A lengthy drought has left the fields of Mali dry and barren, and though Seydou is only six, Amadou knows one less mouth to feed will help his father and aunt survive. The boys are “hired” to work a cacao plantation, only to discover they are somehow deeply in debt to the owners. “The bosses said we could leave when we’d earned out our purchase price,” Amadou eventually explains. “But they wouldn’t tell me how much we owed, and in all the time we worked there, I only saw boys arrive or die, never leave when they wanted to. And we never once got paid.” Read More »

I Crawl Through It, by A.S. King (2015)

Surrealist Fiction
15-21
I Crawl Through ItDefinitely weird, often confusing, but ultimately fascinating and rewarding, this is a surreal psychological exploration of the minds and lives of four deeply troubled teens in suburban Pennsylvania who face gruelling test weeks even while their school receives daily bomb threats. Brilliant Stansi wears a lab coat everywhere, even on her family’s “vacations” to school shooting sites. Gustav is building an invisible helicopter. Lansdale is a modern-day Pinocchio except it’s her hair that grows with every lie. And China is a poet so damaged she has turned herself inside out. Their parents are absent and self-absorbed, blind to their sons’ and daughters’ pain and anxiety. Read More »

The Mountain Story, by Lori Lansens (2015)

Fiction
Adult
The Mountain StoryWolf Truly takes the Palm Springs aerial tramway on his 18th birthday, intent on ending his life. He is mourning and carrying a heavy guilt for the loss of his best friend Byrd, exactly a year ago on the same mountain. There’s no one to miss him – his mother died when he was a preschooler, and his detestable father Frankie is in jail for killing a couple while driving drunk. But the fates have other plans for Wolf, in the form of three hikers who are lost on the mountain, and convince him to help them find the way to Secret Lake. A series of mishaps strands the four on the mountain, desperately trying to survive the harsh November conditions some 8000 feet (2600 metres, higher than Mount Cheam in Chilliwack) above the desert floor. Read More »

More Happy than Not, by Adam Silvera (2015)

Grit Lit
15-18
More Happy than NotSixteen-year-old Aaron Soto just wants a little happiness, or at least respite from the life he lives with his overworked mother and cruelly silent brother in their one-bedroom Bronx apartment. He is also desperate to forget finding his father’s body in the tub, a memory so distressing it led to his own suicide attempt. He focuses his hopes on the promise of “memory relief” from the Leteo Institute, but his mother simply cannot afford the costly medical procedure. He finds solace in the arms of his girlfriend Genevieve and with his new friend Thomas, with whom he shares a passion for action comics and movies. When his friendship with Thomas deepens, Aaron is confused and grows even more convinced that Leteo offers his only hope. Read More »

The Same Sky, by Amanda Eyre Ward (2015)

Multicultural Fiction
Adult
The Same SkyTwo lives, two paths, two females with very different lives and goals, but sharing the same hardened resolve to bring their dreams to reality. It opens with Carla’s story of a desperate life of survival as a child in Honduras. Her mother is in America, and little Carla fantasizes of joining her mother, who works as a waitress and sends money home as often as she can. Life in Honduras is about avoiding the robbers, keeping her little brothers safe, and dreaming of a better future. To realize her dream, Carla will have to ride the Beast to America, a dangerous journey few survive, and none without scars. Alice and Jake Conroe live in Austin,TX, where they own and run a highly successful barbeque restaurant. Read More »