2012 IPPY Silver Medal Winner for Popular Fiction
Emotionally battered and bruised, 29-year-old Australian immigrant Benny is looking for escape, not redemption. Escape from herself and the dismal failures of her life: her first solo art exhibition is panned by critics and her husband left her for an Andy Warhol look-alike. Isolated from her family, her career as an abstract artist in ruins, she comes to Canada and finds solace working eighteen hours a day as a graphic designer in a disreputable agency. Numbing her pain with hard work, she self-medicates with prescription meds, and becomes involved in a series of increasingly dubious relationships. Cutting all ties, Benny leaves her job and sets off on a road trip adventure across Canada, hoping she will discover who she wants to be and where she wants to be it. Funny, aggressive, fearless and vulnerable, Benny is a road-warrior with a backpack of opiates, a map and a guileless sense of naiveté. In seventy-two days, she travels nearly ten thousand miles overland and more by flight and train, sinking deeper into the underbelly of a world that offers her the anonymity she seeks.
This coming-of-age novel is narrated with wry humour and filled with a cast of engaging characters. A tale of sexual adventure and feminist learning, Benny looks for escape but emerges a heroine instead; with mistakes, epiphanies and friendships helping forge her a home and a sense of identity in the true North.
“West of Wawa is a story readers can easily connect with. Benny flees the known for the unknown by adventuring north with her bags full of narcotics to help numb the pains of her past. On her travels she seeks anonymity, but can’t help engaging with various characters that add to her personal trip of self-discovery, new friendships, and new found identity. Once you start the journey with Benny, you can’t stop reading until you follow her through destruction to destiny!”
—Amy Lance, Wondrous Women Worldwide
“Lisa de Nikolits is an amazing writer. She has a gift of being able to pull the reader into the story, and keep them turning the page. West of Wawa shows how a life can turn from emptiness to one of fulfillment. West of Wawa is a great read.”
—Nikki Rosen, author of In the Eye of Deception
“Vibrant characters and intriguing plot make West of Wawa an engaging and rewarding read. Travelling from city to city, traumatized Benny tries to put the torn pieces of her soul back together. Readers will experience awe as they follow the main character’s travelling therapy, which will surprise and then haunt them.”
—Ava Homa, author of Echoes from The Other Land
“West of Wawa bursts with a sense of immediacy and freshness. Full of humour and tragi-comedic elements, in a style that is smooth and fast paced, West of Wawa is a delight to read. The characters, particularly Benny, are so idiosyncratic and unique that they prick at, then fully permeate the heart. I couldn’t put it down.”
—Danila Botha, author of Got No Secrets
“West of Wawa is a funny, moving exploration of a surprising journey towards self-realization — and Benny, its pill-popping, wise-cracking heroine, is a treat. De Nikolits’s book will ring true for anyone who has ever had even a moment of self doubt.”
“Travelling along with Benny on her journey of self-discovery is an adventure – I kept wanting more of this witty character. Living vicariously through her fearless choices and adventure-filled travels made me want to hop on a bus to see the country. Through West of Wawa‘s funny and fulfilling story, you can’t help but root for Benny and her broken heart. And there’s no doubt you’ll be pleased by the story’s outcome. ”
—Daniela Payne, web editor CanadianLiving.com