Longlisted, 2018 Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic
(Young Adult Fiction)
Seventeen-year-old Camden splits her time between her father, a minor rock star, and her mom, a scruffy “hardware geek” who designs and implements temporary and sustainable power systems and satellite linkups for off-grid music and art festivals, tree-sits, and attends gatherings of alternative healers. Lark, Camden’s father, provides her with brand-name jeans, running shoes, and makeup, while her mother’s world is populated by anarchists, freaks, geeks, and hippies. Naturally, Camden prefers staying with her dad and going to the mall with his credit card and her best friend, but one summer, when Lark is recording a new album, Camden accompanies her mother, Laureen, to a healing camp on a mountain in Northern California. After their arrival, Laureen heads to San Francisco, ostensibly to find her lover, but she never comes back. Alone, penniless, and without much in the way of camping skills, Camden withdraws. Things begin to look up when she is befriended by Skinny, a young man in charge of the security detail at the camp who knew her mother as a child. The summer ends and Camden heads back to Toronto to find her dad, and it’s only there that she learns Laureen’s disappearance is tied, unexpectedly, to the secrets Skinny tried to keep from her for months, until, finally, he couldn’t.
“A beautifully sustained and compassionate book about the lost, written in the voice of Camden, a young girl who is, predictably rather than suddenly, abandoned in a healing “camp” halfway up a Mountain in California. Intelligent and wary, she does not ask for sympathy or let anyone, including the reader, near–her voice is cool, sarcastic and resigned, though Ursula Pflug’s mastery gives us the continuous sense of what is not said. This is not a novel of the expected. In the stagnant daily routines on the Mountain (mud and latrines and wet clothes form a large part), the isolation of each from each, the loss of family and attempts to create new bonds however fragile, there is a continuous sense of this book’s being written in the shadow of real migrant camps. This is a novel that does not allow us to turn away.”
—Heather Spears, author of The Strong Box
“A delicate, bittersweet story full of big ideas, told in sumi-e brushstrokes set against a large-scale canvas, from master Canadian fantasist Ursula Pflug.”
—Candas Jane Dorsey, author of A Paradigm of Earth
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